| Biswas (right) garlanding the bride. Picture by Swadesh Roy
Krishnagar, July 7: Unable to bear the slaughter of trees, Krishnakanta Biswas yesterday arranged a ritual to get a pair of saplings married off to spread his message of keeping villages green.
A banyan and a peepul tree were united in matrimony as priests chanted mantras and women performed rites like gatraharidra, a traditional act in which the bride is smeared with turmeric. The wedding in Jorakuthi village in Nadia district, about 90 km from Calcutta, was witnessed by over 2,000 people from adjoining areas like Shambhunagar and Simultala.
While Biswas, 69, was the father of the groom, the peepul, his friend Ramkrishna Mondol gave away the banyan bride.
A concrete platform has been built around the trees to protect them and mark the site of the ritual, which has gained significance as a major step towards increasing awareness.
“Deputations or representations to government officials do not serve the purpose. People do not have the energy or they lose patience after a while. That is why I wanted to go ahead with this ceremony so that more people are made aware of the benefits of having trees,” Biswas said.
Soon after fleeing his native home in Faridpur, now in Bangladesh, during Partition, Biswas’ family and others who had settled in the area began planting saplings, he said. “A few decades later, our villages were famed for the mango, litchi, jack fruit and guava trees that grew and bore fruit,” Biswas said.
Biswas and Mondol were, however, witnesses to rampant felling of the trees by government agencies to clear the land either for agriculture or to make way for office buildings. “Sometimes, we were told that the trees cannot remain as an industry was coming up. Nothing has materialised and we do not believe them any longer,” Biswas said.
Asked why he chose these two species for the ritual, Biswas explained that people considered both holy and they were also long-lasting and would thus carry his message for a long time to come.