This Indian Village Plants 111 Trees Every Time a Girl is Born

Celebrating daughters has enriched the entire community.

Dec 29, 2020
This Indian Village Plants 111 Trees Every Time a Girl is Born | Celebrating daughters has enriched the entire community.

One village in India is celebrating the birth of daughters by planting trees; 111 trees to be exact. In Indian culture the number 111 is considered a guarantee of success, and that is what the village is ensuring for these girls.

Piplantri village in southern Rajasthan's Rajsamand district with  8,000 residents, is practicing its own form of eco-feminism that is going against the prevailing culture, according to The Hindu, in an initiative that began around a decade ago. The village is saving girls and going green at the same time.

Around 60 girls are born in Piplantri every year according to Shyam Sundar Paliwal, the village’s former sarparch (decision maker) who started this initiative in memory of his daughter Kiran. He told The Hindu that in half of these births, the parents are reluctant to accept daughters who are valued less than sons and are thought to be an expense rather than an asset.

These families are identified by a village committee and approached by the school principal and members of the panchayat (commissioners) to join the initiative that in addition to the tree planting, also starts a fixed deposit for the baby that matures in 20 years; just like the girl. Residents of the village contribute Rs. 21,000 ($315) and the girl’s parents contribute Rs. 10,000 ($150) to see her through adulthood.

But even more important is the pledge the parents’ sign. “We make these parents sign an affidavit promising that they would not marry her off before the legal age [18], send her to school regularly, and take care of the trees planted in her name,” Paliwal told The Hindu.

Changing the culture of India where there is a history of female feticide is not easy but the country has put in place many measures to prevent it according to Atlas Obscura. These include making gender testing of fetuses’ illegal as well as dowries that make girls more expensive to raise than boys.

The initiatives eco-feminism is thriving. The village has planted over 250,000 tree saplings including mango, neem, sheesham, and Amla. And to act as a natural pesticide, the village residents planted 500,000 aloe vera plants that have become a source of livelihood along with the trees for the village residents.  

“Gradually, we realized that aloe vera could be processed and marketed in a variety of ways. So, we invited some experts and asked them to train our women. Now residents make and market aloe vera products like juice, gel, pickle etc.,” Paliwal told The Hindu.

Now, the village has a website, a studio-recorded anthem and has banned alcohol, open grazing of animals as well as the cutting down of the precious trees. There hasn’t been a police case in at least six years. Saving girls has empowered the village to save itself.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.