Udaipur : At times even the uncouth population has much to impart and inspire the civil society. Like the tribals in Dungerpur, one of the backward held districts in terms of development, natives here, are sprinkling pious saffron-water in the forest ranges these days to save trees from being cut. The unique tradition which have been observed in the region for years is followed by community lunch of Dal-Bhati and churma.
‘Aadiwasis consider Saffron or Kesar to be very pious and swearing on Kesar water means one cannot go back on his words’ informed Deepak Patel, a resident of Aaspur forest area where the Kesar sprinkling ceremony was recently held. Around November-December each year, the forest department takes lead in promoting the tradition through village management committees which carry out the rituals in their concerning dwelling areas. “ Customs come to help where logic fails. The villagers have immense faith in the ritual and they strictly abide them once the kesar water is scattered all over” said Virendra Joshi, forest ranger in Aaspur.
“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 retired professor of Geography at Mohanlal Sukhadia University. The committees having members from villages supervise the conservation works. The ritual is carried out with much fervour as aadvasi men and women collect in large number and go around the forest area in a procession.
Amid loud beating of drums, the village eldermen sprinkle water over the trees symbolizing oath never to cut them down. Similar tradition is also followed at Jhadol, a remote settlement in Udaipur where tribalsbring down Kesar Prasad from the famous Kesariyaji temple which is later sprinkled on the endangered species of trees to save them from wood mafias.
Young girls, in a procession with kalash filled with saffron water over their heads go to the forest where the sacred water is showered on trees like Mahua, Kirani, Khakra, Bamboo, Aanwla. Of fearing a wrath from Kalababa (Lord Kesariya ji) 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.