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Van Mahotsav: The Festival Of Plantation Drive In India

The festival of 'Van Mahotsav' is celebrated every year in the country in a bid to raise awareness about the importance of trees and encourage people to plant more of them

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Van Mahotsav is now a week-long festival, celebrated on different days in different parts of India, but usually between 1 July to 7 July. Wikimedia Commons
Van Mahotsav is now a week-long festival, celebrated on different days in different parts of India, but usually between 1 July to 7 July. Wikimedia Commons
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  • The survival of the human race wouldn’t have been possible without trees
  • The festival of ‘Van Mahotsav’ is celebrated every year in the country in a bid to raise awareness about the importance of trees
  • Going by the Van Mahotsav history, the choice of picking the first week of July to celebrate the festival was indeed a visionary move

“A soil adapted to the growth of plants is necessarily prepared and carefully preserved; and, in the necessary waste of land which is inhabited, the foundation is laid for future continents, in order to support the system of the living world.”

– James Hutton

The survival of the human race wouldn’t have been possible without trees. Serving mankind since time immemorial with its shade and cover, food and livelihood resources, trees play a vital role in sustaining life on the planet. As the population in India grows at an uncontrollable rate, the need for more infrastructure and living spaces continues to engorge whatever remains of the forest cover in the country. In fact, according to a report by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the total remaining tree cover of India that included forests and non-forest areas was 24.16% in 2015.

Also Read: Significance of the Diwali, Celebrations & Rituals, Date & Diwali Recipes

The festival of ‘Van Mahotsav’ is celebrated every year in the country in a bid to raise awareness about the importance of trees and encourage people to plant more of them. The festival finds mass participation of people, including government agencies, civic bodies and educational institutions across the country who come together every year to plant saplings.

According to a report by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the total remaining tree cover of India that included forests and non-forest areas was 24.16% in 2015. Wikimedia Commons
According to a report by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, the total remaining tree cover of India that included forests and non-forest areas was 24.16% in 2015. Wikimedia Commons

 Van Mahotsav History

In order to promote annual tree-planting movement, which is also known as Van Mahotsav, the festival was started on August 21, 1950, by Kulapati Dr KM Munshi, then the honoured Union Minister for Agriculture and Food, to create enthusiasm among masses for forest conservation and planting trees. He planted the first of 108 saplings donated by the Delhi Gujarati Samaj. Rendering the idea to that of a festival where the contribution of the silent sentinels towards the planet would be celebrated rather than just organising a plantation drive, he wanted people to be enthusiastic towards the cause just as one would be during other festivals.

Dr KM Munshi also intended to inculcate consciousness and love for trees among the citizens and popularise planting and tending of trees in farms, villages, and municipal and public lands. Interestingly, the term Van Mahotsav first cropped up in July 1947 after a successful tree plantation drive that was held in Delhi and saw the participation of national leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr Rajendra Prasad and Abdul Kalam Azad.

Going by the Van Mahotsav history, the choice of picking the first week of July to celebrate the festival was indeed a visionary move. Marking the onset of monsoon season in most parts of the country, most saplings planted during this period have more chances of survival than the ones planted during other times of the year.

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It is now a week-long festival, celebrated on different days in different parts of India, but usually between 1 July to 7 July. The Van Mahotsav festival began after a flourishing tree planting drive which was undertaken in Delhi, in which national leaders participated. The festival was simultaneously celebrated in a number of states in India. That festival followed the plantation of millions of saplings of diverse species with the energetic participation of local people and various agencies like the forest department. The new awareness spread as the “Chipko Movement” rose in popularity as a crusade to save mother earth.

Van Mahotsav festival was started on August 21, 1950, by Kulapati Dr KM Munshi, then the honoured Union Minister for Agriculture and Food. Wikimedia Commons
Van Mahotsav festival was started on August 21, 1950, by Kulapati Dr KM Munshi, then the honoured Union Minister for Agriculture and Food. Wikimedia Commons

Aims Of The Van Mahotsav Day

The continuous demolishing level of trees in India has been a problem for a long time, and Van Mahotsav is important in creating awareness of the issues. According to the forest department, for every tree felled ten trees should be planted to make up for its loss. The festival raises the awareness of trees among people and highlights the need for planting and tending of trees as one of the best ways to prevent global warming and reduce pollution. It helps spread awareness about the harm caused by the cutting down of trees, and it is expected that every citizen of India will plant a sapling in the Van Mahotsav week.

Some of the objectives of Van Mahotsav day as visualized by Dr KM Munshi are as follows:

  1. Providing alternative fuel options

2. Provide fodder leaves for cattle to relieve the intensity of grazing over reserved forests

3. To increase production of fruits, which could be added to the potential food resources of the country

4. Aid in creating shelter-belts around agricultural fields to increase their productivity

5. Boost soil conservation and prevent further deterioration of soil fertility

Also Read: Saphala Ekadashi: Significance, Celebrations, Rituals, Festival Timings and Dates

Planting of trees also helps to avoid soil erosion which may cause floods. Apart from all these aids, sowing trees can be extremely effective in slowing down global warming and trees also help in reducing pollution as they make the air cleaner. More than anything else, it offers a natural aesthetic beauty.

On 5th June 2015, Indian Naval Academy Ezhimala also came up with tree plantation drive. Wikimedia Commons
On 5th June 2015, Indian Naval Academy Ezhimala also came up with tree plantation drive. Wikimedia Commons

VAN Mahotsav India

In India, people celebrate Van Mahotsav day by planting trees or saplings in homes, offices, schools and colleges. The various organizations and volunteers have taken up the free circulation of trees as well. An event that sees lakhs of saplings being planted every year, Van Mahotsav is indeed a celebration of life. With the ever-growing, life-threatening perils of global warming and pollution. The festival aims at increasing the green cover of India.

The stress on planting native trees are more, as they most readily adapt to local conditions, supports local biodiversity and have a high survival rate. In order to supply saplings to various organizations and institutions such as schools, colleges and academic institutions, NGOs and welfare organizations for planting trees, state Governments and civic bodies play a vital role. In India, the most suitable time for tree planting in July, as it is the onset of the monsoon season and likely to be more effective.

Also Read: Ram and Ravana Have More In Common Than You Think: 5 Traits of the Anti-Hero Ravana That You Must Learn | Dussehra Special

As at 2016, tree cover of India (including forests and non-forest areas) was 23.81%. The Government of India has set a target of 33% cover by 2020. In 2015 the State Government of Assam announced that it intended to plant 25 lakh(2.5 million) trees. The officials of Assam said, this would not only benefit the environment but also have a direct influence on the socio-economic development of Assam, which has 70% or its people working in the agricultural sector. Due to the recent state drought, the Maharashtra state government has taken upon itself to give the state a green makeover. The lack of green cover or forests not only disturbs the delicate balance of nature but also harms the ecosystem of the animals. Droughts and floods are a great indicator of this disturbance.

Van Mahotsav festival boosts soil conservation and prevent further deterioration of soil fertility. Wikimedia Commons
Van Mahotsav festival boosts soil conservation and prevent further deterioration of soil fertility. Wikimedia Commons

To lend some encouraging support, even the Indian Army has taken up the plantation drive and is aiming at planting lakhs of tree saplings in the state of Maharashtra. Reportedly, the army and the state government have already planted at least seven or eight lakh trees across Maharashtra’s state capital, Mumbai. On 5th June 2015, Indian Naval Academy Ezhimala also came up with tree plantation drive.

‘The Better India’ alongside ‘NAATA Foundation’ has initiated a program, ‘Plant a Tree and Gift a Living, by planting 5000 fruit trees in Aarey Milk Colony, Mumbai. Each of these saplings needs an approximate amount of Rs 100 for their nourishment over the period of 2-3 years, after which they will be sufficient to supplement the income of the community by adding an additional source of livelihood, while also restoring the tree cover of the area.

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Cricket madness in Chicago

People sacrifice other chores just to enjoy this beautiful game and to keep it alive in countries outside India where cricket is not a major sport.

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Cricket has become a popular sport in Chicago. Around 900 people play the game in the windy city.

By West Loop Cricket Association, Chicago

WLCA Working Committee

Hari Mohan, Harshavardhna Hedge, Kunal Tembhurne, Niranjan Kulkarni, Saurabh Nigam, Shreenidhi Bharadwaj, Shekar Reddy Palla, Shwetabh Gaurav, Sunil Saini, Vivek Sarkar

About:

Cricket is more a religion, less a sport in India. People are obsessed with the sport and magnitude of love cannot be defined in words.

In the United States, Baseball, Basketball and Soccer are obviously more popular. However, Cricket has a strong presence due to the passion and love of Indians for the game. The Indian community in USA avidly plays and promotes cricket and, in the process comes closer to each other.

 

Cricket
The tournament played between Chicago Centaurs and Arrigo Avengers.

 

The passion for the game is unreal in USA too. Working men enjoy the sport in their free time. They even book grounds (baseball/soccer grounds) to practice and conduct tournament matches. The players are from all backgrounds – students, businessmen, lawyers, IT professionals to doctors. They all take out time out of their busy schedules and come together to rejoice the gentleman’s game in the windy city.

Tournaments in Chicago

As cricket has a strong presence in Chicago, many friendly yet competitive tournaments are conducted by cricket fanatics to keep the game alive.

Chicagotwenty20 tournament

Chicagotwenty20 is the oldest cricket tournament that was conducted in Chicago. It’s first season took place in 2009 and the tenth season was played in 2018. The league is played in 20 overs format. 56 teams participate from Chicago and are divided into groups 4 with 14 teams in each group.  Each team has a squad of 16 players with 11 playing and rest 5 as extras. Each team has a home ground. 7 matches are played at home ground and the rest at the opponent’s ground. The top eight teams from each group are qualified for the quarter finals. The tournament is almost four months long. The best player of the winning team is awarded the man of the match in every match. Best Batsman, Best bowler, MVP ( most valuable player) awards are given at the end of the season.

The 2018 season was won by team Yorkers. The Best Batsman, Highest score and the MVP award was given to Mr Pavan Shetty of team Yorkers, who scored 418 runs. The best bowler award was given to Sivakumar for taking 27 wickets.

 

Cricket
This is the team who connected via the meetup link which has more than 300 members.

 

WLCA Super 8 tournament

WLCA (West Loop Cricket Association, Chicago) was formed by four IT professionals in 2016 with the sole objective of promoting the game of cricket in Chicago City area. Based out of vibrant and affluent Chicago West Loop, WLCA is an assemblage of 300+ cricket players. These cricket enthusiasts come from different walks of life being corporate professionals, UIC/IIT students and local businessmen. There are hundreds of followers across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

WLCA mainly involve in:

  • Organize annual cricket tournament
  • Coordinate weekly cricket games in different Chicago City park locations
  • Coordinating friendly games with other known Chicago Suburban teams
  • WLCA team represented Chicago City in other Chicagoland tournaments including Chicago T20 League and Soha Cup
  • Maintaining and making available Cricket Equipment Kit free of cost to playing group

The WLCA hosts Super 8 Cricket tournament which started in 2017 by the West Loop cricket association (WLCA). It is played under the format of 8 overs and 8 players in each team. This concept of tournament was the first to be launched by WLCA in Chicago. This is the shortest time-consuming format (2 days) and the played at the heart of Chicago Downtown. The first season was extremely successful (12 teams) and participating teams called out as the best organized cricket tournament amongst many happening in Chicago.

Season 2 played in 2018 organized by WLCA had 16 teams divided into four groups with four teams in each group. The semi-finals and final are played with 10 overs. There is a man of the match, best bowler, best fielder award for every match

Cricket
Westloop Wolves Team.

 

Here is the fixture and schedule of Season 2:

There are 16 teams participating in this short format cricket tournament.

16 team is divided into 4 groups.

Group A Group B Group C Group D
Winter Wolves (A1) Chicago Wild Kittens(B1) Arrigo Avengers(C1) Super 9s(D1)
Dark Knights (A2) Challengers(B2) Cook County(C2) Chicago Super Kings(D2)
Chicago Centaurs(A3) Hunters (B3) Westside Wolves(C3) River City (D3)
International Khiladies (A4) Ballers(B4) Knights(C4) CSK+(D4)

Each team in the group will play only two matches with the other two teams.

From each group top two teams will be qualified for the quarterfinals, then semis and finals.

Chicago Centaurs were the Champions and Super 9s were the runners up.

The tournament has become a big deal in no time. It was sponsored by big names like USBank (thanks to Susan Brown), Lodha Group (this group was also the associated sponsor of Ind vs, Eng Test Series in 2018) and Metra Spice Mart (Only Indian Grocery Store in Chicago Downtown). The tournament has gained momentum in no time and is likely to do so in the years to come.

Keeping the game alive overseas

Cricket has become a huge deal in Chicago. Around 900 people play the game in the windy city. Tournaments like above help in maintaining healthy competition and something to be excited for.

People sacrifice other chores just to enjoy this beautiful game and to keep it alive in countries outside India where cricket is not a major sport.

 

Cricket
Dark Knights Led by Pranjal Chauhan

 

“My favourite sport and always loved to watch and play the game anywhere in the world anytime. Always loved to organize these kinds of tournament from childhood so continuing the same thing outside the country”, Says Harshavardhna Hedge, Organizer, WLCA super 8 tournament.

“Well I love the sport and love my country. We get to relive our childhood and impart love for the game to the next generation. The community comes together and enjoy, and we also return to the society through charity”, Says Hari Mohan, Organizer, WLCA super 8 tournament.