Sarpakkavu – Nature groves in Kerala homes
I miss the Kerala where Sarpakkavu or sacred groves were present in most houses with land. My grandparents’ house, I am told, had one where the lamp was lit every evening and where sacred rituals were done. There was a general fear of the little piece of jungle in the grounds and people kept away.
These sacred groves usually were next to a pond as green as can be with lots of medicinal plants and trees of great value. They not only prevented soil erosion but also gave shelter to snakes, squirrels, birds and other small creatures and the soil was pure with no chemicals or sewage polluting it. In those olden days of joint families these Sarpakkavus (abode of the snake Gods) had not only religious significance but were also a treasure trove of medicinal plants for Ayurveda. M.S. Swaminathan, Agricultural Scientist, once said:
Unlike, a botanical garden where a wide range of trees and plants are collected and cultivated for the purpose of education and enjoyment, the sacred groves are one method of expressing the gratitude of human families to the trees which sustain and support life under a given agro-ecological condition.
Now that fear and superstition is behind us and even as we go behind antique architecture and curios why can’t we rebuild a sacred grove for nature? Why can’t every Keralite with land leave a little portion of his or her land to nature and plant trees and encourage wild grass and traditional flora to thrive?
The blockbuster Avatar has tried to convey what we as a nation in India have for years been practicing – being frugal and being one with nature. However most of city dwellers in Kochi including yours truly have been buying into the consumerism of the West. I admit I am a supermarket shopper purely out of convenience and lack of awareness about the impact of my small actions in the larger picture of man’s impact on nature.
The more I learn about what environmentalists are saying I understand more and have now promised to give my money more to the roadside vendor selling fruits, vegetables and fish than a big supermarket.
And one day I hope to have a piece of land with no manicured lawns but a garden with a spirit of its own, wild and free to ramble, where frogs croak, crickets chirp, birds and animals nest without fear.
For more details on Sarpakkavu visit the Kerala Forest website.
Pics: Source Wiki.