BY: CAROLINE ROLF
Every culture holds its own unique celebration when a child is born. In a society where the birth of a girl is far less celebrated than the birth of a boy, one village in India shows their appreciation for a female born with a grand gesture for their community and the environment.
The village of Piplantri in Rajasthan state of India makes a remarkable effort to recognize young girls and the planet by planting 111 trees every time a girl is born. This incredible achievement in eco-feminism could be an inspiration for India and the rest of the world.
So far, the community of 8,000 has planted over a quarter of a million trees, 111 for every female child born and 11 for every death in the village.
This has had a great impact on Piplantri both in changing the attitude towards women and providing a greater economic opportunity in tree care.
Together, the villagers nurture the trees and provide protection from termites with the addition of surrounding aloe vera plants.
Gehrilal Balai, a 28-year-old father, told the Hindustan Times that when he planted 111 saplings last year, he felt the same happiness in looking after the saplings as lulling his daughter to sleep.
Historically, the birth of a daughter was considered a great burden on the family in many Indian villages. With the practice of dowry prevailing in rural villages, the cost of marriage for households with daughters was considerably higher. Because of this, daughters were thought to be of less value than their male counterparts, receiving inadequate education and being married off before the age of 18.
Violence against women originating from these practices remains a heated topic in India. However, Piplantri seems to have completely rejected these limitations. The former leader of the village, Shyam Sundar Paliwal, started the unique ritual to honour his daughter, Kiran, who passed away at a young age.
Just as the village collectively continues to care for the tree, community members ensure the girl will never be considered a financial burden for her parents by setting aside a 20-year fund of Rs 31,000 (about $500 US). An affidavit is signed by the parents stating that their daughter will be married only after she reaches the legal age, has finished school and of course, the trees have been looked after.
A decade later, this beautiful tradition has fostered a deep appreciation for females in the village and has encouraged a significant sense of environmental protection. The determination and persistence of an entire community involved in an uplifting process is an example from which we can all learn. For every new generation that is born, a greener future is guaranteed.