Villagers offer worship at Devrai
Villagers offer worship at Devrai

Bhopal: Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya has showcased Devrai - the sacred groves of Maharashtra - with basic information and photographs and videos on its official website and social media pages.

The exhibition that began from Thursday is part of online exhibition series-35. The exhibit is installed in open air exhibition area of the museum. Museum director Praveen Kumar Mishra said every village in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts in Maharashtra has at least one sacred grove that is privately owned and do not belong to revenue department.

A Devrai is handed over to respective village panchayat for management. “The traditional decision making body of village, consisting of Mankaries and Gaokars, is still strong, especially in taking decisions on social-religious matters. Extraction of timber or any other forest produced from Devrai is strictly prohibited for personal use,” Mishra added.

Horticulture officer Dheer Singh said villagers believe that entire property within the sacred groves belongs to the deity. These groves harbour many important and rare plants, specially the medicinal plants from Western Ghats.

Sacred mangrove in Maharashtra
Sacred mangrove in Maharashtra

Many of these Devrais have giant species of Antiaris Toxicaria, Terminalia Bellerica and Tetrameles Nudiflora as well as lianas like Entada. Antiaristoxicaria, Sageraealaurifolia, Holigarna Arnottiana, Anamirtacocculus, Butea Parviflora and many species of Amorphophallus are now restricted to groves.

Groves provide a place for village gatherings during festivals, beginning of agricultural or developmental activities. In many villages, a forest patch is preserved for cremation.

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