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Planting trees to celebrate girls, a village keeps count

Friday June 17, 2011 11:02:11 AM, Imran Khan, IANS

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Patna: There's a village in Bihar that is greener than many others. For, it celebrates the birth of girl children by planting saplings. And now Dharhara is counting the number of girls born and the trees planted in the last 100 years -- in a symbolic move against female foeticide.

"We have been collecting information about every girl child born in the village to compile the genealogical table. It is a matter of pride for us that Dharhara village has become a role model for gender equality," Nagender Singh, a village resident, told IANS.

Another villager, Ramesh Prasad, in his mid-40s, said the decision to compile the data reaffirms "our commitment of happiness towards the birth of the girl child in the village".

Dharhara, a small village in Bhagalpur district, got worldwide attention a few years back for its unique tradition.

"We don't feel sorry when a girl is born; instead we celebrate by planting a tree. All villagers are helping in compiling the data to count the number of girl children born and trees planted on their birth. We are trying to obtain the genealogical table of all families," he said.

Nagender Singh says by compiling the data, they could also possibly ascertain as to when the tradition of planting saplings on the birth of every child started.

"It will be a documentation to establish the tradition of protecting the girl child and we will count trees planted till now, a valuable green resource of the village," he said.

Prasad says according to the practice, every family in the village plants at least 10 trees whenever a girl is born. The practice has paid off well as Dharhara now makes other villages look pale in comparison to its greenery.

The village impressed Chief Minister Nitish Kumar last year with its initiative, which symbolises the empowerment of women and the protection of the environment in a unique way.

The chief minister had lauded the village and dubbed it as a role model for other villages.

Nitish Kumar again visited Dharhara June 5 this year and said the tradition establishes that the girl child is not a liability.

"Planting of saplings on the birth of a girl child, if adopted by others, could help Bihar increase its green cover," the chief minister said.

He also gifted the village a Kilkari Bal Kendra and a Kasturba Gandhi Balika residential school to encourage its remarkable commitment to society and nature, officials said.

It is estimated that there are over 20,000 trees in the village. The fruit trees have helped the village economically, bringing it considerable earning.

"The fruit trees are like bank deposits. It also keeps the environment rich," said Munna Singh, a middle-aged villager.

"We treat a girl child as the incarnation of goddess Lakshmi (the Hindu goddess of wealth)," he added.

At 933, the state's child sex ratio is better than the national average of 914, but has come down from the 981 figure the state registered 30 years ago.

(Imran Khan can be contacted




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