Santiniktan: Celebration of Nature

Earth Day Network Country Director Singh spent three days visiting Santiniktan in Eastern India August 7-9, 2011.  Beginning with a presentation on Earth Day Network’s activities at the Center for Environment Studies at Viswabharati University, she went on to visit local tribal villages to better understand how they make the best (and often artistic) use of natural resources.

On August 8, Earth Day Network India Director attended the annual tree-planting ceremony brikkhoropon that was held at the University. This ceremony, begun by Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in the early 20th century, continues to be observed today, and people from far and wide come to attend it. 

In his foresight, Tagore realized the usefulness of trees far before the word “afforestation” become part of everyday vocabulary.

Accompanied by dance and music, a sapling is ceremoniously brought in a flower-bedecked palanquin, much like royalty, and planted by dignitaries in a colorfully decorated space.  The same verses composed by Tagore for the first ceremony reverberate. They praise trees and refer to them as founders of life that transform harsh deserts, among other uses

A translation of the first stanza by Ranen Dutta:

“Rejoice in flying the verdant flag that conquers the desert, you powerful soul,

Let dust be blessed in your compassion

Silence of the earth will respond to your voice

Your love and beauty will embrace flowers, fruit and trees

You beautiful greenery, let the traveler take rest in your shade …”

Tagore’s songs and writings on nature continue to inspire people the world over.