INDIA. New Delhi: In a unique initiative, the Ministry of Tribal Affairs in partnership with The Art of Living Foundation, Aurangabad, Maharashtra launched the Vrushka Bandhan Project where 1100 tribal women are creating Rakhis for Raksha Bandhan with seeds of indigenous trees, which is a unique contribution to increasing forest cover & combating climate change.
Vrushka Bandhan is derived from Vriksha and Rakhsha – Vriksha meaning trees and Rakhsha meaning rakhi (strings that sisters tie on their brother’s hands).
The Vrushka Bandhan initiative was part of a project sanctioned by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to the Art of Living in October 2020 under which 10000 tribal farmers of 10 tribal villages in Aurangabad are being trained on sustainable natural farming based on Go-Adharith farming techniques. The 1100 members of the Mahila Kissan Manch germinated the idea of creating Rakhis with indigenous seeds.
A virtual event was organised by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs to highlight the project in which Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of Art Of Living was also present. Adivasi Kissan Mahila Manch ladies displayed the wide array of “Seed Rakhis” and the process of making them.
On behalf of the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, the virtual event was attended Dr Naval Jit Kapoor, Joint Secretary, and Ms. Yatinder Prasad, Joint Secretary and Financial Advisor. Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Kapoor said that this project is aligned to the vision of Prime Minister for Atmanirbhar Bharat, creating self-reliance among tribal farmers. The project-based on Gauadharit param paragat kheti seeks to preserve and revive the Traditional Ecological Knowledge of tribal communities and protect them from the negative effects of chemical agriculture.
Highlighting the role of the tribal farmers in organic farming and tribal women in the production of the Rakhis, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said that to tackle issues like air pollution and climate change, Jana Shakti, Rajya Shakti, and Dev Shakti need to come together, as can be seen in this project. He also emphasized the importance of organic farming and complemented the tribal farmers, social workers, and the officers associated with the project. He said that such initiatives should be undertaken in other states.
The Rakhis are made of indigenous seeds stuck on naturally dyed, soft indigenous, non-toxic, biodegradable cotton. Once used, the seeds can be sown in the soil, thereby benefiting the environment. It is expected that thousands of trees would be planted under this project and the project will provide employment to tribal women associated with the project.
Dr. Prabhakar Rao, Project Director explained how the project has transformed the lives of tribal farmers of the region and the enthusiasm with which the tribals women are also associated with the project. He stated that the Art of Living is committed to organic farming and creating awareness about the protection of desi seeds and increasing forest cover.
Ministry of Tribal Affairs and Art of Living Foundation is also working in the education of tribal children in remote areas and awareness programs for representatives of Panchayati Raj Institutes in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.