Devrais are sacred groves situated in the Western Ghats, Maharashtra. The word devrai comes from two words: dev which is God and rai which is forest. These sacred groves or God’s forests are key hotspots of biological diversity wherein the felling of trees and killing of animals is considered taboo by the local communities. They play a pivotal role in the maintenance of the local ecological balance, conservation of watersheds, and preservation of bioresources.
The Dharmanath Devrai Vanikaran Project
On 3rd March 2023, Team MyTree Pune joined hands with Omron Automation Private Limited to support the local community at the Dharmanath Devrai, Pimple Jagtap Village near Pune through a plantation drive. 108 trees of native species such as peepal, banyan, shisham, karanj, and tamarind were planted in the vicinity of a natural water body.
Mr. Dharmaraj Botre who leads the Dharmanath Devrai Vanikaran project has overseen the plantation of more than 21000 trees in the last two years. Water is sourced from this natural water body to supply water to the trees. Besides, the fauna is also dependent on this water source.
However, during summer when the water level decreases, the local community must purchase water from the State Irrigation Department under the agriculture quota for a period of three months from the date of request.
Team MyTree Pune has pledged its support to Mr. Botre and his team from the Mahiti Seva Samiti by making a financial contribution towards the purchase of water.
Field Visit to Janani Aai Devrai
Members of Team MyTree Pune also visited the Janani Aai Devrai in Mangaon Taluka, Pune district with the objective of studying the flora, fauna, and other related aspects of an existing devrai. They were guided by Dr. Ajit Gokhale who has been studying the devrais for several years.
The team members observed that the temperature was much cooler in the devrai. They had to traverse rocky terrain, covered with shrubs and creepers, and surrounded by huge trees to arrive at the devrai. A temple frequented by Jijabai, Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj’s mother is present in this sacred grove. It is said that the Gods present in this temple protect this devrai.
Dr. Gokhale spoke of the forest ecosystem and the symbiotic relationship among different trees and the creepers growing on them. He also focussed on the diverse species of animals and birds thriving in this ecosystem while emphasizing the equilibrium of the five pancha tatvas – water, earth, air, fire, and ether. He finally concluded the discussion with the impact of human exploitation of natural resources and the destruction of this delicate balance.
Team MyTree Pune will soon be collaborating with Dr. Gokhale on several projects in the preservation of this devrai in the days ahead.
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