The Tree Festival, popularly known as ‘Van Mahotsav’ is a week-long festival celebrated from July 1 to 7 during which millions of trees are planted all over India. It was initiated in 1950 by K.M. Munshi, the then Union Minister for Agriculture, not as a one-time measure but with the intention of celebrating it as a festival every year.
During Van Mahotsav, saplings are supplied by the State Government and Civic bodies to various schools, colleges, NGOs and offices. It is also known as the ‘Festival of Life’. It was started for the purpose of fulfilling some objectives such as increasing the production of fruits, providing fodder for cattle, promoting soil conservation, helping to create shelter belts for agricultural fields, etc. During this time, native saplings are planted as they can adapt easily to the existing climatic conditions. As monsoons arrive in India around the first week of July, it is an ideal time for this festival as the survival rate of the saplings is more at this time than at any other time of the year.
Trees are the source of our survival, they provide us with oxygen and clean the air around us. Peepul, Banyan, and Neem trees release oxygen not only during the day but also at night. According to BBC Science Focus Magazine, a human breathes 740kg of oxygen every year which is roughly equal to seven or eight trees. Trees reduce the carbon footprints present in the atmosphere and also keep the temperature down. It has been psychologically proven that those patients who had visual access to the trees through their windows tend to recover earlier which means that trees have a healing property, they reduce mental fatigue and inhibit a sense of positivity and calmness within us.
Saving trees has become very relevant in recent times due to increasing problems of global warming and climate change. Many awareness campaigns are conducted during this period addressing the problems of cutting down trees and putting forward the need to save trees and plant more of them to leave them as a heritage for posterity.
‘Nature has made enough for man’s need but not enough for man’s greed.’ -Mahatma Gandhi
Our planet is not just our home but it is the home of all the plants and animals as well. Their life is no less important than human life. Today, trees are being cut down and large forests are being wiped off in the name of ‘urbanization’ for building roads, bridges, flyovers, residential and commercial places as in the case of Aarey colony deforestation where 2646 trees were proposed to be cut in order to build a metro shed. We all are well aware of the increasing problem of global warming around the globe, which is a pure result of chopping down the forests to fulfill our wants. Not only this, but trees also form a source of habitat to millions of species of birds and animals, and cutting them down leads to loss of their habitat. Climate change is yet another factor that is an outcome of increased trapping of carbon footprints in the atmosphere.
Planting trees brings many people together (community involvement). Undoubtedly, the Government, civic bodies, forest department are taking measures to spread awareness but this issue requires participating at the individual level too. Here are some steps:
- Plant more and more trees.
- Instead of making a lavish lawn, allocate the space of your garden to more plants to maintain cool temperatures.
- Take part in more tree planting campaigns. Personal commitment is a must.
- Try to protect the trees around you. Report immediately in case you see trees being cut down. Public apathy is the root of many problems.
- Use cotton handkerchiefs instead of tissue papers.
- Don’t buy materials from companies which require cutting down forests in order to manufacture their products. Go for environment-friendly products.
- Reduce, Reuse and Recycle.
Let us celebrate the festival of ‘Van Mahotsav’ by limiting it not just to 7 days a year but throughout our lives. Add ‘Planting trees’ to your bucket list and make the world a better place to live.