Have you heard of the Chipko Movement? A socio-ecological movement that practiced the Gandhian method of Satyagraha and non-violent resistance through the act of hugging trees to protect them from being felled.
It was a small village in Chamoli District, Uttarakhand. The Government had restricted huge areas of forest from being cleared, so women had to walk for long hours each day to gather firewood and fodder.
The woodcutters told the women that the forest could fetch resin, timber and therefore foreign exchange. The women retorted, “Yes we are well aware of the produce that a forest can give mankind – soil, water and pure air.” They then hugged the trees and prevented it from being felled.
It was a rather sultry day. It had rained a few days back and the humidity was growing in, but the clouds weren’t heavy or black enough to rain. My daughter had her Junior Cultural Day Program at School. She was one of those Village Women – a wood collector.
She had to be dropped at School by 6.45 am for the makeover (Saree, head scarf, junk jewellery and some yellow paint on her face). The program was to start by 9.00 am. We (parents anxious to see their daughter perform) got there with the little one in my arms, at about 9.40 am. We got to see our little village woman in the balcony where all the participants were dressed up and seated along with their teachers. I could hardly recognize her (what with the yellow paint and all!).
Speeches that never seemed to end took a while. We checked the schedule and to our horror discovered that Chipko Movement (a skit by Class II – my daughter’s class) was almost towards the end. The baby in my arms was sweating profusely, she was literally stuck to me (chipak gayi).
2 kids took us through the whole show. The kindergarten kids kicked off the cultural programs followed by Class I, Class IV, Class III. 3 hours went by. A good show I must say. We were sort of glued to our seats (kursi se chipak gaye), what with the kind of sweating in that sweltering hot weather! Baby was getting jittery. We had no option but to wait for our daughter’s turn. The other parents, whose kids were done with their performances started trickling out of the auditorium. I was afraid by the time my daughter’s turn arrived, there would be nobody but us to watch. We were counting down to the show.
However, I do think it was worth the wait. A marvelous show, with beautiful stage settings, props, SFX, BGM, Village Women - my daughter being one of them, and her doting parents (that’s us!) giving her all their attention, the Police, the Woodcutters and the works, bringing the Chipko Movement to life, and sending out a very strong message “Save our environment”. We were indeed glued to our seats (ab completely chipak gaye) with the awesome performance put up by these little boys and girls.
I was all anxious to capture it all on video, my arms were begging for mercy. And then, wiping the sweat, the makeup (that refused to come off) and finally getting back home! Phew...All is well that ends well.
Chipak Gayi: Getting stuck / glued
Chipko Movement: Where the village women hugged trees to protect it from being felled