Sunday, October 31, 2010

Chipko Movement

     One of the most beautiful environmental movements that I have ever studied is the Chipko movement, originating in Uttar Pradesh, in the Himalayas, in India. The name of the movement originates from the word "embrace", which makes reference to the protests in 1973, where women embraced the trees with their bodies to keep them from being felled. Below is perhaps one of the most well-known images of the Chipko movement.

circa April 1973

These women gained an enormous victory for their cause when in 1980, because of their protests, there was imposed a 15-year ban on green felling in the Himalayan forests. The movement has now stopped clear felling in the Western Ghats and the Vindhyas as well as putting pressure on lawmakers to generate policies that are sensitive to the needs of the environment and people.

The very first Chipko movement is a beautiful and sad story. In 1730AD, 363 Bishnois people sacrificed their lives to protect the Khejri tree groves that are sacred to their community even today. Although too late to save those that perished, the Maharaja at the time, after hearing the tragic story, made it a crime punishable by death to cut down Khejri trees. To this day, the Bishnois people are a federal authority against those who break this law.

Maatu hamru, paani hamru, hamra hi chhan yi baun bhi... Pitron na lagai baun, hamunahi ta bachon bhi"
Soil ours, water ours, ours are these forests. Our forefathers raised them, it’s we who must protect them.
-- Old Chipko Song (Garhwali language)

-Alice S.

1 comment:

  1. Alice you beat me to it. Since posting on a Buddhist movement, I was going to write about a Hindu ecological movement and it was this.

    However readers might not know that this religious ecological movement was pursued under the holistic identity of Hinduism. For centuries Hinduism has been targeted as a polytheistic religion, but in fact they belief that everything comes from one.

    A popular metaphor to understand Hinduism theology is the idea of the ocean and tide. A wave will rise up as a distinct thing, but it still came from this one body of water and will return to that body of water as it crashes at the shore.

    In Hinduism there is no divine authority over any land because humans are equals to all living organisms, hence the importance of Chipko to protect the trees from suffering.

    Just a little extra.

    Jordan Carlson