A community in Rajasthan, India practices a brilliant tradition to commemorate the birth of each new baby girl. Every time a daughter is born into the Piplantri village, the local citizens celebrate by planting 111 new trees. This amazing custom began when Kiran, the daughter of a former village leader, passed away at an early age. The young girl's father vowed to make sure other residents would value the lives of every girl thereafter. Since then, over 250,000 trees have been planted in honor of each girl brought into the world. Benefiting both the planet and the villagers, this practice has provided a forward-thinking act of eco-feminism in a country that generally undervalues women.
As part of the tradition, Piplantri residents gather 21,000 Rupees amongst themselves, and collect 10,000 Rupees from the parents of the new child, setting aside 31,000 Rupees (about $465 USD) for a 20 year fixed deposit for the child. Parents also sign a legal affidavit, which states that the daughter will receive proper education, not be married until she reaches the legal age of 18, and the trees planted in her honor will be taken care of. Together, these conditions help protect the rights of the new girls, and promote sustainability and growth in the community.
The villagers meticulously care for the trees, planting aloe vera plants close by to protect them from termites. The forest and aloe vera are now starting to be used to produce products that provide a source of income for the community. “Gradually, we realized that aloe vera could be processed and marketed in a variety of ways. So we invited some experts and asked them to train our women. Now residents make and market aloe vera products like juice, gel, pickle etc,” the village's former sarpanch (elected official head of the village) Shyam Sundar Paliwal explains. This progressive little village continues to quietly create an environment of eco-feminism that promotes female rights and simultaneously generates a greener Earth.
All images via Piplantri