Piplantri is one of those few examples that give us a breath of hope. We find ourselves in a social setting where coming into the world as a child is little more than a setback. To be born a woman is to have no voice, it is to become a "bargaining chip" in an agreed marriage, and it is to be invisible in a man's world.
In Piplantri, being a girl is nourishing the earth with life, it is making roots germinate so that time bears its fruits, and when the girl becomes a woman, she has for her a whole forest that welcomes her and that whispers to her a life of hope.
In this arid region of Rajasthan, when a boy is born, dances and parties are celebrated, but when it is a girl who opens her eyes to the world, it is the earth that rejoices. We tell you why ...
A girl, a forest: the “ecofeminism” that begins to germinate in India
Many begin to define this initiative, which has been underway for more than 6 years, as "ecofeminism." Piplantri was a town destined almost to disappear. To the aridity of the terrain and the drought of Piplantri was added an even more terrible aspect: female fetishes.
We have to bear in mind that the fact of being born a girl in India involves a very high cost for the family: they must offer her a suitable dowry so that tomorrow she will get a good marriage. Women in this country are little more than "merchandise" without voice and vote, because more than 80% of the links are arranged.
However, despite the fact that Indian law prohibited this practice in 1961, it continues to be carried out. For this reason, and given the economic investment that many families mired in the humility of their scarce resources must make, they often opt for these terrible fetishes (now more regulated and persecuted) with which to get rid of "that heavy burden."
Piplantri was an example of this ...
The Piplantri project and its standards
The rules by which this wonderful project is governed are:
Shyam Sundal Paliwal is the mayor and creator of this initiative and who was forced to react to the alarming situation. His people and his land slowly "faded" into a barren scene of female smiles and trees.
His idea was not long in coming: for every girl born, 111 trees had to be planted. In addition to this, the people themselves would contribute, as far as possible, to offer a small amount of money for the future of that creature. This sum usually ranges between 200 and 300 euros, and is placed on a fixed term for 20 years.
Parents are required to sign an affidavit promising that they will not marry off their daughters before the legal age, that they also undertake to send them to school regularly, and that they will take care of the trees until the girl can do it herself.
Aloe vera plants are grown around each tree, entire fields that serve as a means of subsistence for women: they make soaps, creams and juices that they later commercialize. The girls nourish the earth with their birth and mother earth brings them her "sap" as a wonderful tribute.
Trees are my family
The feminization of poverty in countries like India is a scab that will undoubtedly take many years to disappear. Despite the fact that its legislation recognizes equality between the sexes, the role of women remains invisible and tightly linked to traditions.
The example of Piplantri is a breath of fresh air that brings us the fragrance of a land that is reborn and a people that awakens.
To date, there are already 285,000 trees in an area of 2,000 hectares and every year, twice as many girls are born, about 60.
In recent years, another equally beautiful initiative has been added: every time a person in the community dies, 11 trees are planted. It is a way of honoring the deceased and at the same time, of narrowing even more that life cycle that, far from having an end, always begins with more life.
The residents of Piplantri have also understood something essential in these years: nature is part of the human being, and we are all important in this wheel of existence. We are all family.
When the girls turn 5 or 6 years old, they tie colored ropes to their trees to symbolize that union with them, that bond full of admiration and respect that will accompany them forever.
An exceptional link between nature and the figure of the woman that speaks of hope and balance, of wisdom and prosperity. Hopefully this project will take place in many more countries.
Mind is wonderful