Almost every village and temple in Jaisalmer has an ‘oran’ or a sacred grove believed by many to be the abode of gods. They are also home to many endangered species of trees, birds and other creatures. However, plans are afoot to use the land to set up renewable energy projects, which locals fear might wipe these groves out.
Maybe it is because they are from a desert state, their love for water and trees runs so deep. Many of Rajasthani traditions are linked inextricably to the environment.
Such as the oran, a term derived from the Sanskrit aranya meaning forest. Orans are sacred groves and pasture lands, usually abutting temples, where no cultivation takes place and flora and fauna are allowed to grow and roam free. Trees are never cut here and the area belongs to no one.
“Jaisalmer has nearly hundred orans and most of them are seven to eight hundred years old,” Bhopal Singh, environmental activist from Jhalora village, Jaisalmer, told Gaon Connection. “And many of them are associated with history and lore that every inhabitant here is acquainted with,” the 30-year-old said.