Maiti: When the tree is tended to, just like a daughter

For a woman, especially in India, marriage is not only about starting a new life in a new place with her husband. Most often, it is also about leaving behind the only home she ever knew until now. In the hills, the daughter leaving her parent’s home is such a poignant moment that not only is it depicted in songs and stories, but also makes a big part of the Hindu culture there. Why, the ever-important Nanda Devi Raj Jaat, which happens every 12 years is all about Goddess Parvati going back to her husband’s home, high up in the Himalayas. 

The daughter’s wedding and her “bidai” (the moment when she leaves the parent’s home), thus, is a bittersweet moment for the parents. With the daughter gone, they cling to her memories, smile at her favourite song, treasure her old clothes and miss her when they cook her favourite meal. 

Who would’ve thought environmentalist Kalyan Singh Rawat would give parents some of the joy back even though the daughter is gone? And, in the process, promote forestation? In 1994, Rawat, the man behind the Maiti Movement of Uttarakhand, started promoting the habit of the daughter planting a tree in her parent’s house once she gets married. Due to all the emotions attached to that one tender sapling, the parents ensure it grows to be a young tree and symbolises how the daughter too is happy and prosperous as the green tree growing in their backyard. It is also looked after by the Maiti sisters (unmarried women from the village) and are now treasured assets of the villages, with no one daring to chop them down. 

The word Maiti is derived from the Garhwali/ Kumaoni word which means a married woman’s paternal home. This unique afforestation drive in the hills that centres around women has now become so popular that the event is even printed in wedding cards. The Maiti concept has caught on so well that it has crossed borders and is now being adopted in states such as Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh, too. Even in Uttarakhand, the Maiti ceremony is also organised on several other auspicious occasions. 

The movement has also become more organised – the eldest unmarried woman is chosen from the village and under her supervision, saplings are planted from trees. During the marriage of a village girl, the sapling is then uprooted from that makeshift nursery and is planted by the bride and the groom in a permanent location. The sapling is then watered and tended to by other girls in the village. With the first hint of spring, it seems all the daughters who had left the village for their husband’s homes, are now healthy and happy.  

The simplest way to combat climate change is to plant trees: Trees breathe in Carbon Di Oxide and through the process of photo-synthesis create food for themselves and breathe out Oxygen.  

At Sustainable Green Initiative, we plant trees to help the fight against climate change and also hunger, poverty and rural migration.  By planting a tree through us, you help in doing your bit to mitigate your carbon footprint and carry on the fight against hunger, poverty and climate change.

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Did you know a tree sequesters about 1 ton of carbon and processes enough oxygen for two peoples requirements in its life-time?

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