Sacred Groves in India

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Item Code: IDK953
Author: Kailash C. Malhotra, Yogesh Gokhale, Sudipto Chatterjee and Sanjiv Srivastava
Publisher: Aryan Books International
Edition: 2007
ISBN: 8173053235
Pages: 185 (58 Color Illustrations; 2 Color Maps)
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details 11.2” X 8.5”
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Book Description

From the Jacket

In India, as elsewhere in many parts of the world, a number of communities practice different forms of nature worship. One such significant tradition is that of providing protectionto patches of forests dedicated to deities and/or ancestral spirits. These patches of forests are known as sacred groves. The tradition is very ancient and once was widespread in most parts of the world. The estimated number of sacred groves in India in about two lakhs. Groves are rich heritage of India, and play an important role in religious and socio-culture life of the local people. These ecosystems harbour many threatened, endangered and rare plant and animal species.

The book covers various cultural and ecological dimensions of sacred groves in India, and describes recent initiatives undertaken by various stakeholders to strengthen this multifarious institution.

About the Author

Kailash C. Malhotra, an anthropologist and human ecologist has taught in Pune University and Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata. He has carried out extensive research on anthropological and ecological dimensions among tribals, dalits, nomads and village communities in different parts of the country. He has authored over 20 books/monographs and has published over 350 research articles in Indian and foreign journals. He is a fellow of the Indian National Science Academy and Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore. He was President of Indian Society of Human Genetics. He has served as a member or chairman on various committees of Department of Science and Technology, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Planning Commission, etc.

Yogesh Gokhale is PhD in Ecology from Mumbai University. He has done extensive work on sacred conservation practices across the country. His research interests include the interface of human-nature interactions such as ecological value of various sacred conservation practices, and national and international policy frameworks such as Convention on Biological Diversity. He is Associate Fellow with The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi.

Sudipto Chatterjee is an MPhil in Environmental Sciences from School of Environmental Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He undertook the course on Plant Conservation Techniques at Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, U.K. and was trained on Project Cycle Management by WWWF International. Ranthambhor Revisited; Forests Fires in India-Lessons from Case Studies; Natural Resource Management of the Apatanis; Relevance of forest Certification to Wood Carving Industry of India are some of his publications. He is presently working with Natural Resource Mangament Unit of Winrock International India, New Delhi.

Sanjiv Srivastava, MSc in Botony, was Assistance Horticulture Officer with Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya, Bhopal. He was instrumental in the installation of replica of sacred groves on IGRMS campus, and contributed a great deal in organizing sacred grove campaign in different parts of the country.


We have great pleasure in publishing the monographs Sacred Groves in India: An Overview written by a team of experts – Kailash C. Malhotra, Yogesh Gokhale, Sudipto Chatterjee and Sanjiv Srivastava. Sacred Groves are a form of nature worship and are dedicated to deities or ancestral spirits. These provide a good example of traditional mode of conserving biodiversity. In an age when our ecology is believed to be ‘fragile’ and our planet earth is said to be ‘fractured’, the ongoing conservation strategy by traditional means is an effective way to fight the onslaughts of environmental degradation on the one hand and to ensure sustainable development on the other. Sacred Groves, an integral part of our traditional knowledge system, nourish diverse species of trees and associate species, and also act as a nursery and storehouse of tribal and folk medicines. Our Museum has been in the forefront in not only documenting intangible cultural heritage of India, but also in emphasizing that culture is an important input in sustainable development. A very good example of this is the case of Sacred Groves. It was in 1999 when Dr. Kalyan K. Chakravarty was the Director, the Museum had organized the First Festival of Sacred Groves alongwith an indoor exhibition. During that time an effort was also made to recreate Sacred Groves from different ecological zones of India by installing them in various sections of the open air exhibitions within our 200 acre campus at Bhopal. In continuance of such attempts to propagate the tradition, a traveling exhibition on the theme developed earlier has been further modified to strengthen the variety of Sacred Groves related to local management practices and knowledge system. This exhibition has traveled to different parts of the country eliciting good response. I congratulate the authors for completing the monograph for publication coinciding with the celebration of the Second Festival of Sacred Groves in our campus in March, 2007. Our Sincere thanks are also due to our co-publisher Aryan Books International for publishing it within a short time span. We sincerely hope that this publication will be received well by one and all.


Foreword v
List of Illustrationsxiii
1. Anthropoligical Dimensions of SGs2
1.1 Distribution of SGs in Space and Time 2
1.1.1 Africa2
The Sacred Kaya Forests in Kenya4
Sacred Groves in Ghana5
1.1.2 Western Asia7
1.1.3 North, East and Southeast Asia7
1.1.4 Europe8
1.1.5 Austro-Pacific Region9
1.1.6 Americas9
2. Geographical Distribution of SGs in India10
2.1 Andhra Pradesh10
2.2 Arunachal Pradesh10
2.3 Assam10
2.4 Bihar11
2.5 Chhattisgarh12
2.6 Goa12
2.7 Gujarat12
2.8 Haryana12
2.9 Himachal Pradesh12
2.10 Jharkhand13
2.11 Karnataka13
Kans – The Sacred Groves of Western Ghats of Karnataka14
2.12 Kerala16
2.13 Madhya Pradesh18
2.14 Maharashtra18
2.15 Manipur18
2.16 Meghalaya19
Nongtluh Sacred Grove and its Associated Monoliths20
2.17 Mizoram24
2.18 Orissa24
2.19 Rajasthan25
2.20 Sikkim26
2.21 Tamil Nadu26
2.22 Uttar Pradesh27
2.23 Uttaranchal27
2.24 West Bengal27
3. Sacred Mangroves28
Shravan – Kavadia, Rann of Kachchh28
Pirotan Island, Gulf of Kachchh29
Khodiyar Mata, Gulf of Kachchh29
Achra Mangroves, Maharashtra29
Crocodile Conservation in Goa29
Chidambaram, Tamil Nadu30
Sunderbans, West Bengal30
4. Number and Size Distribution of SGs30
5. Ownership and Management of SGs37
6. Ethnicity and Sacred Groves39
7. Gender and SGs40
8. Interfaces between People and Sacred Groves41
Harvesting of Biomass44
Gift Exchange45
Activities with Economic Implications45
9. Political Dimensions of SGs45
10. Sacred Groves as Common Property Resources47
2.1 Biological Value51
Ecological Refugia51
Storehouse of Biodiversity53
2.2 Ecological Services55
Recharge of Aquifers55
Soil Conservation and in Nutrient Cycling55
Status of Sacerd Groves of Meghalaya58
Duvaria’ Saran65
Mizoram: Safety Forests in Manipur and Mizoram67
Meghalaya: Ki Law Lyngdoh Sacred Grove67
Kesar Chirkav Practice in Rajasthan68
Pavitravanas in Karnataka69
Initiatives for Strengthening SGs70
In the Words of People72
Initiatives Undertaken by Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya (IGRMS)73
(i) Installation of Replicas of SGs74
(ii) Indoor Exhibition74
(iii) Sacred Groves Festival74
(iv) Publications on SGs 74
(v) Travelling Exhibition74
Abut the Exhibits75
Future Strategy and Action Plan77
Appendix 1. Species Diversity Found in Sacred Groves of Andhra Pradesh (after WWF-Andhra Pradesh, 1996). 81
Appendix 2. Species Diversity Found in Sacred Groves of Karnataka (after Gokhale, 2005)85
Appendix 3. Species Diversity Found in Sacred Groves of Kerala (after Subramanian et al., 2005).93
Appendix 4. Species Diversity found in Sacred Groves of Maharastra (after Deshmukh, 1999).97
Appendix 5. Species Diversity Having Medicinal Properties Found in Sacred Groves of Manipur (after Khumbongmayum et al., 2005).124
6. Species Diversity Found in Sacred Groves of Meghalaya (after Tiwari et al., 1999)127
7. Species Diversity Found in Sacred Groves of Tamil Nadu (after Sukumaran et al., 2005)138
8. Birds from Sacred Groves of Kodagu district, Karnataka (Bhagwat et al., 2005).144
9. Macrofungal Morphophytes from Sacred Groves of Kodagu District, Karnataka (Bhagwat et al., 2005).147
Appendix 10. Outdoor Exhibition on Sacred Groves151
Appendix 11. Inventory of Plant Species Planted in Sacred Groves155

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