Indian Adventure 8

Simon from WILDFOOT spent his summer enjoying a trip across India. He recorded his travels to give you an understanding of Indian culture, and we are serialising his adventure in a series of blog posts on the WILDFOOT blog. Today, Simon spends his night in Jaipur and learns more about the fascinating Bishnoi religious tribe.

Part 8

As part of my Indian big cats adventure, I spend the night in Jaipur and enjoy an eventful evening at Manoj’s family home. I experience a delicious authentic Indian evening meal with all of the family around the table.

Harsh sits with me and discusses the wildlife that we have been lucky enough to observe so far.  I’ve already read a few pages of the copy that Harsh has written about a religious tribe whose focus is on total conservation. What surprises me about this sect, called Bishnoi, is that they were founded in 1486 and therefore formed the earliest conservation movement ever.

The sect is still prevalent in certain areas of India today, and abides by 29 life rules such as ‘be kind to all living beings’, ‘green trees not to be felled’, ‘no meat to be consumed’ and ‘clean firewood before you burn it so you don’t kill insects’.

This Hindi tribe have given their lives to protect green trees and made several sacrifices throughout the centuries, including in 1604 when two ladies chopped off their heads to protest against the felling of Khejri trees. It’s still remembered to this day by the Bishnoi and is a main inspiration of the movement.

Similar brave sacrifices have since followed, including in 1730 when a major protest against the felling of trees to build a fort in Rajasthan saw men, women and children hug trees as axes fell. One can only imagine the blood spilled by brave souls from over 84 surrounding Bishnoi villages. By that time, 363 Bishnoi lives were spent.

Harsh follows some of the sect’s 29 rules and holds dear to his heart similar conservational principles to the Bishnoi. Harsh has undertaken great research on the movement and is now working on a book centred on the religious principles of the Bishnoi people. Watch this space!

In Simon’s next installment, he travels to the Keoladeo Ghana National Park. To find out more about taking part in your own Indian wildlife holiday, don’t hesitate to contact WILDFOOT’s experts today.