VanaMahotsava - A festival of Trees
This is celebrated in India in July/August generally after the monsoon has set in depending on the convenience.This is a green movement started in the fifties which has become even more relevant now since global warming has become an important and major issue which has far reaching implications. Vana mahotsava or the festival of trees is celebrated to make the environment healthy .In India it is more popular in Gujrat and in the southern states of India where people live close to nature.
We celebrated the event like we do every year here last week on the 10th .We have formed a group of ladies and men coming from all walks of life.We prepare plant saplings and distribute them to small offices,government offices , schools, shops and other business houses .We also help them plant in larger pots or if there is space available ,plant them out in the soil.Last year I had prepared and given 14 plants and this year I have given 23 plant saplings, which were all distributed and I have many people asking for more plants..
The preparation starts at least 2 months before Vanamahotsava , when people taking part in Vanamahotsava start taking cuttings and start them planting into empty plastic milk packets filled with a mixture of sand and soil.Most of them begin to grow roots and start growing well in the plastic bag.This year I had a hibiscus plant which had grown to a full fledged plant with buds and it was the first one to be selected by a school teacher who wanted it for her home.I love this time of the year when the monsoon rains are beating down and we are close to nature and this festival makes us all aware of how we are all totally dependent on nature and do our best to preserve it.
When we go back into the history of this festival which has absolutely no religious significance whatsoever, we come to know that it is actually a movement started in the fifties by some eminent thinkers who realized the importance of preserving nature ,trees and forest land. They began by planting some saplings in public places during rainy season since, that is the best time to plant any new saplings.They grow root very easily and quickly. This movement became popular with the masses and began to spread. India used to have a vast forest cover and it really helped in every way including regulating the temperature.Once major cities started growing these forest covers began to vanish and there were many ill effects like a shortage of rain fall and a general increase in the temperature levels.So a few eminent thinkers foresaw what could happen in years to come and earmarked a day for celebrating nature and environment, which is what Vanamahotsava is all about. In western countries a lot of care is taken by the authorities to maintain the green belt around the cities and one finds a lot of greenery even in the middle of major cities like London, New York,Paris etc; so they do not have the need to worry since care is already being taken to maintain the eco balance !
In South India and especially in Karnataka this festival is celebrated in most places and I have known it since my childhood because we celebrated it while I was in school.It makes people give more importance to environmental issues. In almost all the schools here in my town Vanamahotsava is celebrated. My children know all about it and in most schools children are made aware of its significance and plants and saplings are distributed to children so that they plant it in their houses.Government offices too have a celebration - they do it by either bringing in a few new potted plants or planting a sapling if there is space around the office.