Earth Day celebration 2011: Marriage of a Well to a Tree

Patna. 21 April: Over a hundred student representatives from Mount Carmel, BPS, Hartmann, Gyan Jyothi and Gyan Deep met at the Tarumitra Bio-reserve in Digha to celebrate the World Earth Day. They participated in it by enacting the traditional Marriage of a Well to a Tree.

Painting done by one of the students, Utkarsh Datta Class VI of BPS

Shweta Marandi , a Tarumitra student leader from Mount Carmel, who compered the program said that our ancestors knew the delicate interdependence of the trees and water tables. They solemnized this symbiotic relationship of trees and water by organizing their wedding at every Hindu marriage where the priest presided over the marriage of the well to a tree along with the nuptials of the boy and the girl. “Every human marriage is protected by the greater wedding of the trees to the wells!” said Sanskriti Chauhan, another student.

Shweta Marandi, Mount Carmel explaining the concept of the Marriage of a Well to a tree

As part of the celebration students came in groups and organized the waving of lamps (aarti) both to the “bride” and “bridegroom” along with other rituals of a regular marriage. They exchanged garlands on behalf of the large Kamroop tree( Ficus retusa) and the ancient well.

Bhavana, of Hartmann leading the Aaarti and the garlanding of Ficus retusa!

They further joined en mass to prepare the strong gatbandhan “marriage band” by tying mango leaves on the yellow rope . The students showered specially coloured rice on both the tree and well when one of the volunteers Kanchan Pathak chanted the nuptial mantras.

Preparation of the Gatbandhan "Marriage band" with mango leaves

“I am very touched by the devoted participation of students and they made the occasion a memorable one” said scholar of economics Dr. Chirashree Das Gupta who was the guest of honor.

“The Water table is depleting day by day and this trend poses a serious threat to life on Earth. Thus there is a serious need to save more and more trees to keep the eco-system habitable.” said a senior member of Tarumitra, D.N Prasad.

” I was so happy to see that our kids are taking serious efforts to protect their mother earth along with their future.” commented the Director of BPS School Anil Kumar.

Garlands and Aarti "waving of lamps" on the Tarumitra Well

Students of BPS organized nuptial taps under the leadership of Khushbu and Pintu. Himanshu from Gyandeep did a solo on Tera hi jalwa. There was marked enthusiasm shown by the students totally sheltered from the summer sun under the Kamroop tree. They clapped and thumped as the dances gained high speed!

Khushboo and team from BPS regaling the gathering with Satyam Shivam Sundaram

Many teachers too participated in the event under the co-ordination of D.N Prasad. Present also were Ms Margaret Molomoo from Darjeeling, Rajesh Kumar, Ravinesh, Sanjay Sigh, Ignace Xalxo, J Raj, Fr. Robert Athickal  and Amardeep.

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Central American Students trail blaze in Bihar!

Patna. 23 March: Four students of Agriculture and Environment from Zamorano University Honduras have been pioneering a trail on a campaign to conserve electricity in Bihar. Ms Yanira Pech from Belize (L) Nivaro Cerceno from Panama, Alberto Quintana from Mexico and Luis Huezo from El Salvador joined Tarumitra in the first week of January 2011.
Guided by their perceptive and understanding guide, Professor Martha Calix, the four arrived with a plan to do internship at the Tarumitra Bioreserve in Patna for the ensuing four months. After some bouts of brainstorming it was suggested to organize a pioneering campaign on the conservation of electricity.

Alberto, Yanira, Luis and Nivardo

Working with the staff guide from Tarumitra Ms Margaret Molomoo, the four worked as a well knit team to reach out to nearly 30 high schools and colleges in Bihar. “Over the months we probably talked to over 5000 students on the need to conserve every wattage of electricity.” Said Ms Yanira Pech.

Ms Yanira interacting students in Hartmann High School

Being a pioneering work, they needed role models and examples to be presented to the peer group. “We took cues from Ms Shweta Marandi, a class 8 student of Mount Carmel School, Patna” said Nivardo Ceceno who got connected to audiences easily. It may be mentioned that the United Nations recognized the trail blazer in Shweta by granting her the honour “Hero of the Month” back in 2008 for her campaigns to replace bulbs with CFL lamps.

“Students easily could catch up with Shweta since she belonged to their peer group” said Nivardo. Shweta started her campaign stating that the use of electricity alone contributed the major chunk of pollution in the modern times.

Hero of the Month, Ms Shweta Marandi joined the campaign in person

“We repeated what Shweta discovered that one unit of electricity in India was produced by burning 52 kilograms of coal” said Alberto with his ever friendly smile. The Four urged the students not only to replace bulbs with CFL lamps, but also develop the habit of putting off electric appliances like lights, fans, heaters etc as and when possible. Many responded positively to the visiting students from Honduras by promising to comply.

The group was fortunate to team up with Shweta and Sanskriti from Carmel School since both the girls  were free to join the campaign after their final exams in the school.

Being an innovative group, the four planned to build a Smokeless oven at Tarumitra. They followed a model developed at their university to every detail while implementing its construction using bricks and clay next to the Solar cookers. “I was amazed at the effectiveness of the oven. Absolutely no smoke even when we cooked three pots simultaneously!” said the green architect Fr. Joe Parekattil S.J.

Team of Yanira, Nivardo, Alberto, and Luis along with Staff guide Margaret Molomoo

Luis Sanchez commented that he enjoyed working on the construction of a hut along with Fr. Joe using geo-thermal energy to cool the interiors. “We found it was fun to carry bricks, soil and sand for the construction” said Luis.

His Excellency the Governor of Bihar Devanand Konwar earlier laid the foundation for the  Geo-thermally cooled Eco-hut and was waiting for volunteers to complete the construction.

The Four contributed significant amount of time for the construction of the Eco-hut

The whole concept of the Eco-hut was to use local and if possible thrown away materials with innovative ingenuity to make a livable and air-conditioned space.  The whole building is plastered with soil and the ceiling with local bamboos.

Yanira and her group spent many a memorable afternoons under the canopy of the tall Kamroop tree helping to craft the Eco-hut!

The group carried soil for the plastering of walls, mixed saw dust  and glue for the roof, chiseled the bamboos for padding the ceiling along with local volunteers and Tarumitra staff.

Luis carrying soil for the geo-thermally cooled house

” It was fun to light a wood fire and prepare the glue using local techniques” said Nivardo and Alberto who spearheaded delicate task of padding the ceiling to make the rooms heat-proof. Luis added a rope and pulley kit to pull up buckets of saw dust to the upper floor.

Sisters of Notre Dame, Asha and Maryanne had applauses for the work of the students! Alberto preparing the glue and Nivardo, Luis and Margaret operating the gear to pull up materials.

The group is shortly on their way to Bangalore for a week of assemblages in different institutions. Co-ordinated by Dr. Meath Conlan of Holy Cross run  Maitreya, Bangalore, they will be teaming up with students of St. Joseph’s College in their campaigns on electricity.

The four with Anshal who joined them to visit schools and translated from Englishto Hindi : Students from each school promised to save electricity in their homes!

Priya from Adarsh Vidyalaya said that she would remember the visit of their “Cousins” from Central America, “ I hope to visit them sometime in my life” added Priya when she was asked to comment on the visit of the Zamorano students.

“The most important part of the internship was to live and share a roof and create a cousinship while giving  shape for a common future on the  earth.” said the Co-ordinator of Tarumitra Robert Athickal S.J. He commented also that the Tarumitra dream has been to bring together an international team spirit in collaboration with the United Nations in the ecologically fragile times of the 21st century on the planet!

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Educationists in Goa resolve for Green Action

Margao, Goa: Over a hundred teachers, Principals and alumni came together in the famous Clube Harmonia for a One day seminar on eco-sensitivity and eco-friendly living. The program was ably organized by the alumni of the 150 year old Jesuit run Loyola High School.
The Chief Minister of the State, Sri Digambar Kamat inaugurated the workshop. As a chief minister, he stated he was viewing development of Goa without destroying the environment that made Goa the “paradise of the East.”

Fr. Anthony Da Silva welcomed the participants. Fr. Robert Athickal, Sri Digambar Kamat Chief Minister, Francisco Lume Pereira and Dr. Orla Hazra

The Jesuit Provincial Fr. Anthony da Silva joined the Chief Minister to light the traditional lamp along with Cosmologist Dr. Orla Hazra, the Principal of Loyola Fr. William Rodrigues SJ, Alumni (LESA)President Dr. Augustine Misquita and Co-ordinator of Tarumitra Fr. Robert Athickal. Fr. Anthony in his welcome address requested the Chief Minister to remain vigilant on the forces that are bent on destroying the fabled legendary Goa.
Chief Minister lighting the traditional lamp and inaugurated the Seminar

Chief Minister lighted the traditional lamp and inaugurated the seminar

Alice Misquita who compered the programme expressed hope that the teachers and parents would help the students to take into their head their unique role as decision-makers of tomorrow. Mr. Francisco Lume Pereira of the Fomento Resources reiterated the firm resolve his company has taken to promote environmental care.

Co-ordinating the workshop , Fr. Athickal warned the assembly that the present day Goa would disappear right in front of their eyes in less than ten years. He said that the city was bursting at its seams as an unprecedented number of visitors made a beeline to the city. The holiday makers would return to their respective places after dumping piles of stinking garbage into the city drains and the now drying River Mandovi.

Teachers, Principals and Alumni members took active participation

A core group of teachers was constituted to carry on the follow up actions under the leadership of Ms Durga Shirodkar, Loyola high school. Ms. Luisa Mascarenhas, Our Lady of Lourdes, Utorda, Ms Dulcina Pereira, Fatima Convent HS, Ms Shaefali Lendhay Vidya Vikas Academy, Anita Keny New Era HS are the members of the core group.

Newly constituted Core team to follow up the Tarumitra process with Fr. Athickal and Dr. Orla Hazra. Mrs. Durga Shirodkar on the extreme right

A second Seminar was also organized by the Jesuits in the nearby city Belgaum on the following day. Besides the Jesuits, students and teachers from St. Joseph’s, St. Paul’s, Sarvodaya, Bhatkande, Divine Mercy and Divine Providence also joined the sessions.

Students from St. Joseph’s, St. Paul’s, Sarvodaya, Bhatkande, Divine Mercy and Divine Providence

The venue of the meeting was the Xavier Training College (XTS)with its 70 acre farm greenery at the background. Over a hundred participants promised to take up action. Each of the schools planned a number of action plans for the year. Fr. Roland Coelho S.J along with Fr. Beneto Fernandes SJ promised to co-ordinate the campaign in Belgaum at the foothills of the Western Ghats. XTS offered the students a round the clock welcome for future eco-camps in its spacious campus.

Hands up and raring to go! Student delegates from six schools at XTS Belgaum

Fr. Agnelo Mascarenhas  from Panjim Goa, accompanied the Tarumitra team to Belgaum. He also compered the workshop for the Jesuits on 26 Feb evening. The 25 plus veteran Jesuit educationists who brainstormed for Belgaum suggested the possibility of XTS becoming a hub for the conservation of Bio-diversity. They asked Fr. Benita Fernandes if he could pioneer a Bio-reserve for the State as well as to resort to the organic farming methods in the campus.

Activist assistant Fr. Agnelo Mascarenhas S.J with students who made sure that the Tarumitra team met the deadlines in time

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Teachers from Western Uttar Pradesh congregated for an Art Camp

Patna.6-10 January: The New Year saw the entire north India reeling under the intense cold waves, with the temperature fluctuating between 3-16 degrees Celsius. In the meantime, 25 Teachers from Pushp Niketan school Dhampur, Western U.P congregated at Tarumitra for a workshop on Art and Environment.

Teachers from Pushp Niketan assembled under the Kamroop Tree

The workshop consisted of creative experiments of a fusion of art and education. The group worked on the mediums of soil, deadwood, waste materials; each of the teachers expressing their thoughts into remarkable visuals and installations.

Teachers seeking inspiration from nature: Art from the Earth

Conceived by a widely discussed young artist Blaise Joseph the guiding team consisted of Ms Sugandha Upasani from Pune and Sheetal from Bangalore. Sugandha recalled, “The teachers were very co-operative, and participated with full involvement. They made songs, rhymes, stories. There were paintings and art installations! They enjoyed doing all these. I loved the Cosmic Walk organized by Ms Margaret through the Panchvati part of the Tarumitra Bio-reserve! It transported me to the world of mysteries. The story will always remain with me.”

The group gathered around a winter fire every day!

Pushp Niketan School “Abode of flowers”  is located in a semi urban town of Dhampur in the Dhampur Sugar Mills campus in Bijnor district of Uttar Pradesh State in India. It is visualized to be a world class model for progressive education with child centric education philosophy, pedagogies and processes. Here, the school is established a non hierarchical, alternative school system promoting excellence in learning and sound values in a safe, supporting and stimulating environment. Volunteers from other countries have come to add their mite to the Internationality of the school atmosphere. Six years old, the School is ably coordinated by Rtd. Major Rajesh Ranjit and his charming danseuse wife Nisha.

Singing that crawled into late nights: alive with dafli and drum!

Among the teachers there was a whole pool of talents. Pushpendra Chauhan with his deep sonorous vocals, Vineet with his drum, Gautam with his artistic mastermind brought up so much of joy to the group. Rahul co-ordinated the event.

One of the participants recollected that the best part of the workshop was the daily gatherings around bonfires under the sunshade outside Uttarayan building at Tarumitra. The teachers shared their stories among themselves spiced with some good quality singing led by the teachers. One evening, a student of classical singing, Ms Sugandha created magic with a mellowed rendition of Raag Bihag.

Considered a super chef, Ms Margaret Molomoo delighted the gathering with her impromptu herbal soups right on the bonfires! She had a way of creating a scintillating fare with a wide array of medicinal herbs collected from the bio-reserve!

One of the resource persons, Ms Sugandha created magic with Raag Bihaag!

Green architect, Fr. Joe Parekattil S.J who was present for the entire camp commented positively on the creative contents of the workshop.

“We were forest dwellers for a week” said one of the teachers as she was leaving the camp,  “my knapsack is bigger because I carry lot more great memories!”


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Archbishop of Patna writes on Ecological concerns for Christmas 2010

Patna. Dec 25: Archbishop of Patna,India, William D’Souza S.J has been an ace activist on ecology since 1996 when he gifted Tarumitra with ten acres of prime land in the metropolis to build the first ever Bio-reserve. Last year when the Copenhagen summit was on,  the Archbishop wrote to all Churches and communities not to indulge in electric illumination for Christmas since “52 kilograms of coal produces one Unit of electricity.”

This year the Archbishop wrote a Pastoral letter to all the churches and communities of his archdiocese on the ecological concerns prior to the Christmas 2010. He urged all the people to stand up and take action especially on the conservation of electricity and water.
The letter is significant at a time the world leaders are finding it difficult to arrive at a consensus on the ecological front. “We need more Dharmagurus (spiritual heads) like the Archbishop to come and guide their flocks!” said the green architect, Joe Parekattil.

Archbishop William wrote, “In my 2009 Christmas message, published in the Archdiocesan Samachar, I had called your attention to this global concern. I had suggested to “spreading the message of saving our Earth and environment from pollution and carbon foot print by celebrating our Christmas with minimum amount of electrical illumination”. I congratulate all of you for positively responding to my suggestion within your capacity. At the same time, I wish to delve on the same subject in detail once again through this pastoral letter. This concern, my dear brothers and sisters, is very crucial, vital, urgent and alarmingly dangerous which needs our immediate attention.
The early Christian tradition reveals an eco-sensitive understanding of the mystery of Christ. St. Ireneus of Lyons said: “Christ recapitulates and summarizes all of creation.” Jesus was always a true Son of the Earth. He was the fulfillment of prophets like Isaiah who prayed “Let the earth be open to bud forth the savior (Isaiah: 45-8). St. Ignatius of Antioch, St. Ireneus and St. Benedict are some of the striking examples from among the early Fathers of the Church, who vehemently acclaimed the unity of creation. They could interpret Christian life as one that is integrally related to the earth and the environment. “The earth forms not only the basic raw material for humankind, but also the substance of the incarnation of God’s Son.” (St. Hildegard of Bingen)

In the middle ages, we have St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226), who had an integrated understanding of nature and God experience. He is known as the Saint of the Nature. He looks at the whole creation as one family. Every living creature is seen as his brother or sister. His eco-friendly life challenges the materialistic world of dominion and control which thus inspires us to live a life of friendship and harmony with nature. He insisted that his brothers leave a border around the community garden untouched so that wild grass and flowers could grow.
The erratic floods, cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, irregular monsoons, etc. are indications that the rhythm of life in nature is seriously in danger.

Archbishop William meets people (file pic)

Sadly, majority of us humans seems to be still unaware and unconcerned about the impending ecological havocs. Climate change due to global warming has affected the atmosphere and life so much so that earth is almost becoming inhabitable. The erratic floods, cyclones, earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, irregular monsoons, etc. are indications that the rhythm of life in nature is seriously in danger. Water and air and pollution, increase in the use of non-bio-degradable wastes such as plastic, etc. are making the earth and atmosphere unsuitable for living beings. Deforestation, use of harmful pesticides and manures for farming is another area which affects our eco-system and endangers human life. The greedy interventions affect rhythm of nature and tilt the eco-balance.

Governor of Bihar Dr. A.R Kidwai laying the foundation of the Tarumitra bio-reserve in 1996: Archbishop William on the left

In short, we are stretching the nature beyond its regenerative capacity. We forget that the nature continues to react and we all head towards a collective suicide. One of the great scientists on ecology, Dr. Norman Myers observed that we have “just about 7,000 days left if we don’t change our way of living in this short span of time. We need to seriously look into the challenges this eco-crisis presents to us today.”
Therefore a concerted ecological action is crucial in our times. Our Patna Archdiocese has been in the forefront of pioneering apostolate. God has always bestowed on us innumerable blessings. Therefore with a sense of gratitude, all of us must strive to campaign for environment friendly living.
I suggest that we use water and electricity sparingly. We can save electricity by using candles and diyas instead of electric illumination for celebrations, Planting trees, use of eco-friendly gifts for our friends and families, using natural sherbets like lime juice, traveling as far as possible, by the public transport system, etc. are some of the means to reduce the crisis. We need to preserve and promote environment. We have to motivate, educate and organize farmers to take up organic farming. Let us learn from local tribal groups to live eco-friendly life. By organizing eco-friendly activities and motivational seminars for the people around us, young and old, women and children, we will be able to involve the whole community in our eco-friendly interventions.
As we prepare ourselves to celebrate the salvific event of Jesus at Christmas, we have a special responsibility towards these concerns. Today God is savingly active all over the world, whispering into the hearts of people to stand up and take action to protect His planet. The incarnation of God’s Son is done on His planet with the matter and mud becoming His body and blood’ May the Word who took a human form and lived on this Earth, and thus sanctified the environment lead each one of us to love and respect our Mother Earth and give us the blessings to be eco-friendly in our day to day life.”

The media gave the Archbishop a wide coverage to his green initiatives. Many communities like Holy Family Hospital, St. Xavier’s College, XTTI etc dimmed down their Christmas illumination to the bare minimum. The Church in Phulwarisharif lit their whole church with solar electricity!

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Sunderlal Bahuguna in Patna

Patna. 27 Dec: Veteran environmentalist and trailblazer of the famous Chipko movement, Sri Sunderlal Bahuguna visited Patna along with his wife today. He is in the town at the invitation of the revivalist movement Spicmacay (Society for Promotion of Indian Classical Music And Culture Amongst Youth) at the Delhi Public School(DPS).

Sunderlal Bahuguna with his wife interacting with students at DPS Patna

Sri Sunder lal Bahuguna started the environmental movement in seventies when he got the support of the women of Garhwal to protest the felling of forests. The women moved in large numbers and hugged the trees (“chipko”) and stopped the clear-felling quite successfully for the first time in independent India.

File pic of Garhwal women hugging trees in 1970s

Spic Macay spear headed by Roshan Seth got some very rare artists like Birju Maharaj, Parveen Sultana, Margi Madhu etc to mentor students in the city. Students from many schools congregated the DPS premises for a five day period of close interactions and sharing.

Ever ingenious Principal of Patna DPS Mr. Vinod made sure that the students had an intimate time with these celebrated personalities.

Sunderlal Bahuguna 2010

It was very fortunate for us to get a chance to spend quality time with the legendary Sri Bahuguna. Many who remembered him from earlier times did mention that the man into his nineties still has not lost any of his gloss or lustre.

Sri Bahuguna interacted with the students in his simple manner, every now and then pausing to listen to their queries. His delightful wife sat next to him and prompted him whenever he missed any important nuances.
It may be mentioned that he became a very special role model for environmentalists when he stopped eating rice 20 years back saying that the country could not afford to cultivate the water-intensive rice varieties. Always a prophet, Sunderlalji continues to inspire the younger generation.

A dedicated Inter school got a chance to spend a memorable time with Sri Bahugunaji

A dedicated group (inter school) spent an extensive time with the veteran activist. DPS arranged the same group to spend next two days at the Tarumitra bio-reserve for  in depth study and follow up programmes. Margaret Molomoo, specialized in Japan on Organic farming  guided them i n their exposure. Molomoo said, “The group certainly has absorbed the vision of Sri Bahugunaji so well!”


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Sacred Grove in Meghalaya

Shillong. 20 December: Sacred groves of India are forest fragments of varying sizes, which are communally protected, and which usually have a significant religious connotation for the protecting community. Hunting and logging are usually strictly prohibited within these patches. Sacred Groves are considered ecologically important hotspots of bio-diversity.

Meghalaya "Abode of Clouds" is home for many Sacred Groves

When Himachal Pradesh has over 5000 such Sacred Groves, the state of Meghalaya has just about 50 of them struggling to survive.

It is in this context, the Jesuits are floating the idea of converting their novitiate in Shillong, the capital of the state of Meghalaya into a Sacred Grove dedicated to the conservation of biodiversity. Shillong is situated at an average altitude of 4,908 feet (1,496 m) above sea level, with the highest point being Lum Shyllong at 6,447 feet (1,965 m). The city had a population of 260,520 according to the 2001 census. It is said that the rolling hills around the town reminded the European settlers of Scotland. Hence, Shillong is also known as Scotland of the East.

Shillong is well connected by two national high ways. It takes three-four hours by road to reach the city from Guwahati.

Harvested Water reservoir inside the Jesuit property

The Jesuit campus, House of Arrupe has an area of 80 acres has a sheer drop of a thousand feet on one side and meandering meadows on the other side. The place has patches of pine and shola trees with a gurgling stream passing through to the water reservoir at the bottom part of the campus.

Sacred Grove in the making: Fr. Richard leading the team

Wild elephant grass and horse grass grow in between the patches of pine trees that filled up the hills. The proposed bio-reserve has the look of a prairie. Fr. Richard Jarain S.J, with a degree in Life Sciences, suggested the immediate possibility of planting indigenous trees in all the open patches of the land.

He along with his novices has turned some of the open spaces to plant rice, ginger, beans, and yams. The soil looked dark and fertile with a lot of sand and gravel to make it soft for plantations like ginger. The percolated water from the slopes comes down to form natural ponds.

“A few check dams could take care of the water needs of the sacred grove!” said Fr. Charles D’Souza, a veteran experienced in large plantations. The word “water” meant everything for the people of Meghalaya. The climate change has affected the state and the once wettest spot on the planet, Chirapunji, has dried up for months in the summer.

Gurgling streams inside the Sacred Grove: Fr. Charles D'Souza SJ (left)

Somebody suggested the possibility of laying pipes for 4-5 kilometres to bring water from a nearby mountain top. The budget then would become rather forbidding.
Knowledgeable people agreed totally with the observation of Fr. Charles that the solution for the water lay right in the property with catchment ponds and check dams.

There are some small natural ponds in the property with fresh water and plenty of frogs. If only more water could be stored from the rainy season! Fr. Charles suggested the construction of some “amoeba ponds” spread around the natural rock formations on the lower part of the land this coming summer.

Natural pond: Adequate water is a concern all over Shillong

What bothered everybody were the forest fires in summer. Each year forest fires were started by people who believes that large amount of smoke would attract the rains! The fires usually chucked up all the tall grass lands along with the saplings which had naturally sprouted or planted during the torrential rains. There were fire-lines around the property but anybody could hurl a lit up torch across these fire- breaks into the grasslands.

Forest fires pose a big threat to the Groves

Jesuit Fathers Yan and Richard Jarain formed a gritty combination in following up their dreams. 22 novices here have formed a team to construct lanes and by lanes crisscrossing the pine forest. Fr. Richard already got in touch with the Forest department and the officials were eager to lend a helping hand to plant the indigenous trees in the campus. A Professor of Botany, Mr James from the local college spent some time to identify and name the trees.

The whole concept of a Bio-reserve is that it should support all life forms. Whether they are birds, jackals or medicinal herbs, Bio-reserve must become a critical moment in the regeneration of the rich bio-diversity of the planet. Fr. Richard felt that they needed to reach out to support the few surviving indigenous trees local to the Shillong hills.
The chief complaint against the afforestation efforts of the Department of Forests had been that they planted mono-cultures of trees. Pine trees were their favourites since they were hardy and non browsable as far as animals were concerned. One would remember what distinguished botanist late Fr (Dr) K.M Mathew S.J used to say, “A pine forest is as peaceful as a dead cemetery since no animals and birds frequented such forests!”

Magnificent view of the plains from the proposed Sacred Grove

When the winter sun rose in the morning there was fairy tale charm in the whole atmosphere. The place is ideal for a retreat centre too. One can spend hours gazing down the hills to the plains of Assam below.

The Jesuits Novices formed teams to execute their Seven point action plans in 2011.


  1. Planting varieties and naming the trees: Donald (L) Regin and Joseph
  2. Cleanliness Campaign at the picnic site outside the campus: DJ (L) Tobias, and Roy
  3. Fight the forest Fires: Lawrence (L) Shisha and Remo
  4. Collect dry wood: Iben (L) and Lucker
  5. Save Water and Electricity: Jonah (L) and Agam
  6. Expand the Organic garden: Felix (L) and Ronald
  7. Stop the trapping of all animals and birds: Jonah (L)

Team Leaders for the Bioreserve with the Director Fr. Richard Jarain SJ

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