Among numerous historical events which I have followed keenly, thanks to the history lessons that went on until I finished my high school or even the articles in newspapers. There are several that come to my mind – glazing my memory with pictures in black and white. These incident have had an impact on my mind and my picture of the era gone by. Still there are few events i count on my fingers, which has shaped me and my personality.
Pages of my history textbook suddenly pop out of nowhere, is it the Harappan and Mohenjodaro’s astonishing planned city’s that stands out? or the treasures of Akbars empire and the wisdom of Ashoka that takes priority? I can picture Queen Elizabeth adorned in jewels in all her glory in a huge hall with chandeliers, and I see Nehru addressing millions with the flag hoisted flying high. The war of the worlds, the Irish potato famine or even the renaissance.
One event stood out on its own, making a mark on my adolescent mind. Past was past but future was in my hands was what i had been hearing from my teachers, peers, parents. This incident surely made me believe that I could make a difference too. It started with the ‘Bishnoi’ tribe of Rajasthan who live in symbiosis with the nature. The people of the tribe protect the animals and the trees with their lives and consider them sacred. The ‘Chipko’ movement denotes the beginning of a revolution that started really slow but caught up like fire with the masses.
‘Chipko’ in Hindi means - to stick to/with. This is exactly what the people of the tribe did when they realized that slowly but surely the trees that inhibited some parts of Rajasthan. Their numbers were dwindling as they were regularly cut, and chopped down by various poachers, in turn affecting the Fauna of the place. Some of them went and hugged the tree and refused to let go of them until the tree was left without being chopped for timber.
As the story goes, this movement caught on like wild fire, Baba Amte who brought the movement into the limelight became the leader and the speaker of this movement. He now lives in ‘Anandvan’ with various trees, animals and tribes in his backyard, nesting several birds and animals and working on various projects that give them employment.
As the environment is gradually going through a shift, the cycles changing, the heat increasing and the ice melting. I realize the importance of nurturing what we have, of holding onto ‘life’ through the green branches and the brown barks… feeling the breeze on my skin, and breathing in the fresh air when standing in the shade of these silent watchers. I feel like holding onto one – for life.