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Kalababa’s saffron protect trees here from illegal logging

Tribal tradition

Udaipur : Sometimes, the uncouth population, may have much to impart and inspire the civil society. Like the tribals at Jhadol Phalasia, one of the most remote and backward held region of the district, where natives sprinkle pious saffron brought from the much famed Kesariyaji temple to save trees from being cut. The unique tradition is being followed here for past 25 years with much reverence and belief.

The Kesariyaji temple situated some 70 kilometers from Udaipur is a sacred pilgrim center both for the Jain sect and the tribal population. The black diety of Lord Rishabdeo here, is lovingly called ‘Kalababa’ by the Bhils. Since centuries, there is a custom of giving saffron to Bhagawan Rishabh Dev as a gift. Due to so much saffron plastered on the idol of Bhagawan Rishabh Dev, the idol looks saffron – colored. People, therefore, call it God Kesariyanath. The saffron brought as Prasad from the temple is therefore held very pious and the tribal community at Jhadol Phalasiya have been sprinkling them on the endangered species of trees getting threat from the wood mafias here. “The deep rooted tribal traditions and sentiments are fulfilled by the revered forests environment. Jungles help them meet their requirements like wood for building, firewood, herbal medicines, fodder for cattle, edible roots, tubers, bamboo and wild fruits essential for their living” said Dr Narpat Singh Rathore, a veteran geographer.

The villagers have made a committee among themselves who looks after the conservation of trees. Last year in December the villagers led by the committee members sprinkled saffron on the trees and now again this year the community members, recently, went to the Jogni Mata Temple where they all took an oath not to cut trees having the ‘saffron touch’. Young girls, in a procession, bore kalash filled with saffron over their heads and took them to the forest where saffron was sprinkled at threatened species of Mahua, Kirani, Khakra, Bamboo, Aanwla trees. Of fearing a wrath from Kalababa, no one dare to violate the laws and harm the trees. “ Tribal communities in many villages of the Mewar-Wagar region had even a custom of giving trees in dowry while’ Kanyadaan’at their daughters marriage. Such customs teach us to be disciplined as that is the only way to lead a life that is in harmony with our nature,” said Dr Rathore.

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