The spirit of the sanctuary : Stories from Sacred groves of Western Ghats
Image source: Credit - Prasanna Mattikop

India has a rich history & tradition of nature-culture associations that are closely linked to the way of life & worldview of its native rural communities. The sacred groves that are spread across our rural bio-geographies are known as Gumpa, Kaavu, Devrai, Sarna, Devla & more. They are ancient & archetypal units of these complex landscape-cultural continua. As part of the course we will stay at some forest villages in Central Western Ghats to study their associations to their Sacred Groves. We will attempt to document the traditional and situated wisdom embedded in the local tales of these groves and their spirits. We will learn about the intrinsic value of this belief system that has a profound impact on environmental conservation in India. Based on the local narratives each one of us will imagine a story of one of the spirits of the sanctuary, be they gods, bees, trees, snakes, nuts, streams, rain, flowers, or people. Through our stories we will try finding the meanings that local people hold for the grove and its beings. The course follows a narrative process. This is done in two parts: Part 1 -field research & character identification , Part 2 - developing a graphic story.

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