We all know that there are many different cultures with their own traditions in the world. Some traditions celebrate the birth of a little girl by buying gifts and presents, such as pink dresses and dolls. But that’s not the case in the village of Piplantri in Rajasthan, India. They celebrate the birth of a little girl by planting 111 trees.
Yes, that’s completely true. Every time a little girl comes to life in this village, 111 trees are planted in her honor.
In many other Indian villages, when a little girl is born in the family, it was considered to be a “weight” for the family, historically speaking. That’s because the rural villagers still work in dowry system, which means higher expenses for people who have daughters for marriage. That’s why, daughter were considered less than their male brothers and a lot of them are married before they even reach the age of 18. Also, just few received a proper education.
This type of attitudes leads to all kinds of violence against women. Violence against women in India is still a heated topic. They recently banned the documentary “India’s Daughters”, cause of its upfront portrayal of rape and abuse in the country.
But, the tradition of planting 111 trees as a celebration of a new born little girl in the village of Piplantri is completely rejecting these historical constraints. They believe that the attitudes towards women can change.
The former village leader in the village of Piplantri, Shyam Sundar Paliwal was the person responsible for the beginning of this amazing custom. He started the custom to honor his daughter who passed away when she was young. Even though, Shyam Paliwal is no longer the village’s leader, the villagers still practice this amazing tradition.
Also, when a little girl is born in this village, all villagers collect money for the little girl. The parents of the girl give 1/3 of the money, which is 31 000 rupees or $500. That money is set aside a 20 year fund for the little girl. This will make sure that the girl won’t be a “weight’ for her parents.
In return for this trust, the parents sign a legal affidavit that states that the daughter will only be married after she reaches the age of 18 and has received a proper education. The affidavit states that the 111 trees must be taken care of as well.
It’s a clever little catch, but the practice of planting trees in conjunction with the birth of a child actually works to ensure that the local environment will be able to support the ever growing population.
Not only does this beautiful tradition foster a deep appreciation for females in the village, but it also instills a remarkable sense of environmental stewardship.
Gehrilal Balai, a father who planted 111 saplings last year, told Hindustan Times that he felt the same happiness in looking after the saplings as lulling his daughter to sleep.
The trees become a symbol for the baby girl and the villagers work just as hard to protect the trees from termites, by planting aloe vera, as they do the girls from all the hardships of life.
Seeing the intimate connection between the social health and environmental health of the village, Paliwal’s tradition has created a truly sustainable future for community members.
Over the course of the past six years, a quarter of a million trees have been planted in Piplantri. Villagers credit the harmony that this tradition has brought to their community with the dramatic drop in crime. Not to mention their renewed adoration of little girls.
All image source: Piplantri.com