From the inclusion of an eighth vow in a wedding ceremony and celebration of diwali to death of a person, Professor Shyam Sunder Jyani is helping integrate sapling plantation in almost every custom that is practised in villages of Rajsthan.
Located in the Nohar tehsil of Hanumangarh district in Rajasthan, the village of Fefana will witness a unique wedding ceremony on December 1.
Like every Hindu wedding in northern parts of the country that includes Saptapadi, the seven vows taken by the bride and groom to consummate the ceremony, this one will also have all the customary practices and rituals with the only exception being the inclusion of a new vow—a Harith Vachan!
The vow will entail the newly married couple to plant a sapling every passing year and care for these plants throughout their lifetimes along with inspiring another couple to practice the same. An amazing vow, indeed!
That’s not just where it ends.
The wedding party has incorporated the idea of sapling plantation in almost every custom that is practised in their community.
Starting from plantation drives in public spaces like government schools and distributing fruit tree saplings amidst students and villagers, the groom’s family has taken the concept of a green wedding to another level.
The couple will also plant a sapling at the entrance of the village as part of the age-old ritual of Kankar pooja, which initially included breaking of a coconut at the village entrance and taking the blessings of the village tree.
Also, every guest who will be attending the ceremony will be gifted a fruit tree sapling following lunch to carry the message forward.
The green wedding concept was put across to the groom’s family by Professor Shyam Sunder Jyani, an associate professor at Government Dungar College and the green crusader behind the revolutionary concept of ‘familial forestry’.
Formulated by Jyani in 2006, familial forestry urges villagers to plant fruit trees within their compounds and treat them as their own family member.
Why fruit trees? “This way, the villagers not only contribute towards the betterment of biodiversity, but they also make use of the fruits in their diet,” says Jyani to The Better India.
The most interesting feature of the wedding is its invitation card.
By incorporating a QR code that can be scanned through mobile phones, a guest can see a video that discourses the need of planting trees and familial forestry and how one can change the face of their village by adopting the same practice.
“Though this is the first time we have tried incorporating this initiative in a wedding, we have practised similar plantation drives during Diwali and the death of my maternal grandmother in our village,” he explains.
What Jyani has been trying to achieve is indeed remarkable. Till date, over 6,25,000 saplings have been planted across 15 to 20 Gram Panchayats in over 2,500 villages in the arid, drought-prone regions of Rajasthan.
While all of these initiatives had been motivated with the idea of nature conservation and perils of climate change and global warming, the idea of integrating one’s festivals and rituals into the green drives had been quite recent.
Jyani feels that if such values are propagated through festivals that are integral to our culture, the younger generation will grow up being more conscious towards the environment and strive for its conservation.
“What I want to spread in our villages is the value of trees and plants in our surroundings that can be clubbed together with the way we celebrate festivals and conduct every other ritual. We plan to expand these green customs across every village in the state and make the people conscious towards their surroundings through something as simple as planting a sapling,” he adds.
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With such innovative ideas towards saving one’s environment, Jyani’s initiative is a prime example of how one’s culture can be evolved with changing times and how our collective actions could actually help save our planet from the perils of climate change and global warming.
To know more about familial forestry and more green initiatives, you can check Professor Jyani’s YouTube channel.