Uttarakhand News

To stop illegal tree-cutting, Maitoli villagers offer jungle to deity ‘Kokila Devi’ for its protection

While the amount of forest cover is decreasing all over the country, the folks in Maitoli village of Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand have started a unique initiative to save the illegal felling of trees. The villagers have offered the entire jungle near the village to the local deity of Justice ‘Kokila Devi’ an an offering. The villagers believe, with the jungle under the graceful protection of the deity, no will dare to cut the trees without her permission.

On Wednesday, the villagers performed religious rituals and offered prayers to the deity after which they dedicated the entire 20 hectare of forest cover under forest panchayat to Maa Kokila for 5 years. The villagers believe after offering the jungle, the deity will protect it from miscreants and prevent illegal cutting of trees. The villagers have offered forest cover to the deity before also and have seen positive results.

In fact, the ritual of offering forests to Kokila Devi is not a new one. In 2008, Berinag’s Bhattigaon also offered forest surrounding the village to Maa Kokila. Berinag Range’s Forest ranger Nandan Gwasikoti says the jungle cover at Bhattigoan have increased significantly. “The villagers at Berinag have enormous respect for Maa Kokila. Whenever a forest is dedicated to the deity the locals stop abusing the forest. The entry to the forests is restricted which allows the forest cover to increase by 50%.” adds Nandan Gwasikoti.

Inputs from Hindustan