The “Dungari mata” sacred grove maintained by Bhil and Bhilala communities: A custom that helps to preserve medicinal plants in the face of environmental degradation – Madhya Pradesh

Inventory of ethnobotanicals and other systematic procedures for regional conservation of medicinal and sacred plants

Author: Vijay V Wagh Affiliation: Plant Diversity, Systematics and Herbarium Division, CSIR-National Botanical Research Institute, Rana Pratap Marg, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, 226 001, India; Ashok K Jain Affiliation: School of Studies in Botany, Jiwaji University, Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, 474 011, India

Publication:Environment Systems and Decisions : Formerly The Environmentalist, v35 n1 (201503): 143-156Database:SpringerLink

The plant diversity of western Madhya Pradesh is reducing at the fast rate due to anthropogenic disturbances and environmental degradation. Disturbance is a major factor responsible for the fragmentation of forest vegetation; as a result, there is a preponderance of small patches, and some of them are still preserved as sacred groves because of strong religious beliefs held by the indigenous people of Jhabua district of western Madhya Pradesh. Dungari mata sacred grove is situated near Katthiwada village in Jhabua district of western Madhya Pradesh that considered being residence of local deities. The Bhil and Bhilalaare the most dominant tribe of the study area and depend upon the forest resources for their livelihood. About 339 species, 286 genera and 82 families were found in the grove. Fabaceae (38 species), Poaceae (33 species) and Asteraceae (20 species) were dominant families, and the Ipomoea was the largest genus, with five species. About 69 tree species, 25 shrubs, 157 herbs, 40 grasses, 3 epiphytes and 45 climbers and lianas were found in the groves. Some threatened plant species are growing over here that are not found elsewhere, and they comes under various threat categories. About threatened taxa, 81 species were recorded from the grove that comes under various threat categories. The present status of the grove is of concern, as it is gradually declining under constant anthropogenic pressure. Their better management and protection are important for the conservation of plant diversity in the region and also for the benefit of indigenous tribes of the state.

Source: Inventory of ethnobotanicals and other systematic procedures for regional conservation of medicinal and sacred plants (Article, 2015) []
Date Visited: Sun Jan 24 2016 20:54:26 GMT+0100 (CET)

The Tree of Life concept is sacred to most cultures. Its significance transcends conscious reality, touching the subconscious and beyond the undefinable. Even if the original meaning is obscured, the symbol retains an unconscious link with our primeval memory and becomes a source of strength. […]

Among the Bhil tribes in Western India, a dead ancestor’s soul is ritually appeased by the priest as he climbs the steps cut into the tree or a pole.

Once he reaches the seventh stage, the soul is released and the purified spirit rests with God. The tree is seen as a point of contact or an antenna, which reaches out to the beyond. The Tree of Life not only stands for growth, proliferation and regeneration; it is associated with the inexhaustible abundance of life, reflecting immortality and the cyclic ebb and flow of cosmic life.

In many cultures, specific trees are objects of worship; it’s taboo to cut them. The Cyprus is sacred in Iran, the Peepal in India, the Bodhi in Buddhist countries, the Baobao in West Africa, the Ficus in Ethiopia, Oak in Celtic tradition, Ash in Scandinavia, the Lime Tree in Germany and the Laurel in Greece. These trees became associated with myths and gods; hence the custom of offering libations to them. […]

Source: The tree of life – The Times of India
Date Visited: 22 May 2022

[Bold typeface added above for emphasis]

“The practice of religious rituals, ceremonies and sanctions by specific cultural groups allow such sacred landscapes to be maintained, emphasizing that humans are intrinsically part of the ecosystem. Taboos, codes and customs specific to activities and community members restrict access to most sacred groves. […] The inclusion of local people’s needs and interests in conservation planning is increasingly accepted as essential, both to promote the well-being of human populations, and to ensure that biodiversity and conservation needs are met in the long-term.” – Nazir A. Pala, Ajeet K. Neg and N.P. Todaria in “The Religious, Social and Cultural Significance of Forest Landscapes in Uttarakhand Himalaya, India” (International Journal of Conservation Science, Vol. 5, Issue 2, April-June 2014) | Sacred groves | Biodiversity and development – Himalaya >>

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