On World Environment Day:
Living in the cities and civilised society, today we seem to have forgotten all that our ancestors taught us about the Nature and how to take care of it. but even today there are a few people who are better protectors of the Nature than us.
On the World Environment Day today, here are a few lesser known facts about a nature loving tribe — The Warlis.
Warlis are famous all over the world for their unique style of painting. But there is a lot more to these tribal people than their art.
These Adivasi / tribal people are more concentrated on the western parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat states. (Almost all the tribal people have a few things in common; like – they all worship Nature). They either gather forest produce or cultivate a crop, generally paddy. Because of this they worship a god whom they call Hariali or Harali Deva, that is, the God of Plants.
Warlis also worship Vagha Deva or the Tiger God. According to them, the tiger is a symbol of life and regeneration. If a foot print of a tiger is detected in the fields, it is worshipped with coconut and vermilion. It is considered as a sign of good harvest. This all sounds too backward (or even uncivilised). But in a way this is Nature worship and protecting the important elements of the nature.
They revere the nature to the extent that till recent times, the Warlis did not plough the land, because they believed that it would hurt Dharitri Ma or the Mother Earth.
Warli houses are simple structures of wood, karvi reeds smeared with mud and cow dung. It is devoid of any furniture. They share their house with their domestic animals like goats, cow, hens, dogs etc., and in spite of this the houses are absolutely clean.
Some of their practices and customs indicate conservation of nature. On festive occasions and wedding functions they drink toddy or other liquor made from plant. For this, they hold the edges of a tree leaf in both the hands, slightly bending it in the centre, thus creating a cup for drinking and other person pours the liquor in it. So there is no pollution due to disposables or plastic things.
An important ritual during a Warli wedding ceremony is to plant a new tree. It is a must to accomplish this first before proceeding with other wedding rituals. So they still follow (because they have made it a part of their customs) what we have forgotten ages ago — Conservation of Environment.
(You can gather more information from this documentary about Warli tribe by Sanjay Shubankar )