Indian Culture is Eco-Friendly, But How?
India, the land of colour, diversity, spirituality and intellectuality, is well known for its environmentally friendly practices in its cultural beliefs. Love and respect for mother nature have been deeply associated with Indian beliefs since millennials.
The Dharmic beliefs of Jain, Vedic and Buddhist traditions have established the philosophy of ecological harmony since its inception. The Indian culture embodies the earliest idea of environmental ethos. Every part of the Indian lifestyle subscribes to sustainability, less wastage and giving away the excess.
The values of preservation and conservation of water, land, agriculture, animals, trees and the overall environment are taught at a young age. Due to this moral ethos, India has been the Golden goose of Natural Resources.
Indian Food Practices
Indian cuisine is one of the most famous cuisines known throughout the world. It is primarily based on plants and dairy products. Even the people who do not follow the dietary code for religious reasons tend to consume meat-free foods in most of their meals.
Purchasing fresh and locally produced products from street vendors is a common practice in India. The majority of the households buy/prefer fresh milk from a local milkman over-processed milk from supermarkets. Indian sweets are freshly produced locally in various sweet shops.
Traditional food preparation practices such as manual methods of grinding, crushing, pickling, etc., are averse to waste. The use of choppers, grinders, juicers, food processors and fridges is still infrequent in most households. Most of the families use them occasionally. The use of wood-fire stoves and clay dishes are still used in traditional cooking in many parts of the country.
The use of brown dry leafy plates has been a typical dish for serving food on various occasions and street food stalls. They are made from dry Sal leaves and stitched using thin wooden sticks into multiple shapes and sizes. These plates can give a neck-a-neck challenge to the modern-day plastic or paper dishes in its run for Eco-friendly use.
Banana leaf is the most famous traditional platter for meals considering its herbal properties and the flavour and aroma it adds to the food. For a hot meal, banana leaves are the first traditional choice for all Indians. They are extremely common in use in the Southern part of India. Banana leaves have been historically used as a surface of writing all over the Indian Subcontinent, which extends to various East-Asian countries as well.
Indian Spirituality & Conservation
The major religions practised in India heavily encourages the protection of the environment. The Ancient Indian Scripture “Isopanishad” says, “This universe is a creation of the Supreme Power meant for the benefit of all his(Brahma) creation. Therefore, each individual life-form must learn to enjoy its benefits by forming a part of the system in close relation with other species. Let not anyone infringe the right of others.”
Some entire communities are totally invested in preserving natural biodiversity. Among all of them, the ‘Bishnoi’ community shines out. They strongly follow the principle of conservation of biodiversity of the area they live in and thus ensure a healthy and Eco-friendly lifestyle—this highlight both the culture and spiritual significance in conserving the environment.
The late External Affairs Minister once said, “Indian philosophy, lifestyle, traditions and cultural practices are based on the science of protecting the nature. This needs to be explained to the global community. Till a lifestyle based on Indian philosophy isn’t adopted, solutions to the environmental problems caused by global warming will be elusive.”
Traditional spaces like sacred forests, river ghats, mountains, free spaces around particular trees, step wells, etc., are an essential part of the Indian lifestyle. They are obtained explicitly from deep ground research on climate change, natural resources and sustainability.
Here are some glimpses of natural resource evaluation done in ancient times:
- Water is one of the most important and valuable natural resources in India. For millennials, rainwater has been collected for harvesting and the importance of lacking fresh water.
- . Indian National Song “Vande Mataram” has the mention the importance of natural resources through its phrases like- ‘Sujalam Suphalam, Malayaja Sheetalam.’ Here, ‘Sujalam’ stands for the adequate amount of drinking water, ‘Sufalam’ stands for fertile land, and ‘Malayaj Sheetalam’ stands for hilly areas, visually attractive with freshness and oxygen-filled air.
- Shiva, the supreme God of Indians, is also known as “Pashupatinath”. Here, ‘Pashu’ stands for animals, ‘Pati’ stands for plants, and ‘Nath’ stands for protector or God. Thus, “Pashupatinath” is considered the protector of the entire ecosystem.
- The early morning prayer in Hinduism states, “Samudra Vasane Devi, Parvata Stana Mandale, Vishnupatni Namastubhyam Paada Sparsham Khshamasva Me”. It means, ‘O! Mother Earth, who has the ocean as clothes and mountains and forests on her body, who is Lord Vishnu’s wife, I bow to you. Please forgive me for touching you with my feet.’ The second part states “Ganga Saraswati Sindhu Brahmaputra sch Gandaki, Kaveri Yamuna Reva Krishna Goda Mahanadi”. Here, some names of sacred Indian rivers like Ganga, Saraswati, Sindhu, Brahmaputra, Gandaki, Kaveri, Yamuna, Reva, Krishna, Godavari and Narmada are mentioned. These rivers are the primary source of freshwater throughout the country. Most of the cities have been build alongside waterways. Thus, they play a significant role in Indian culture to the extent that they are sacred in nature.
. Plants play a crucial part in the Indian belief systems. Some are sacred for their herbal purposes, some a holy for their environmental benefits, and some are for their anti-bacterial/anti-pest/financial benefits. Indian lord Ganesha is offered Durva, a type of thin grass with herbal properties that is very common all over India. Goddesses are offered different flowers of fragrance like China Rose, Jasmin, etc. Tulsi is offered to Lord Krishna, which has a lot of herbal & medicinal use. Supreme Lord Shiva is offered white fragrant flowers with Belpata. Big trees like Pupil, Neem, etc., are also considered sacred in various aspects. It has been scientifically proven that Banyan trees produce more oxygen and purifies the air. The fruits are eaten by humans, animals and insects. Thus, they are a crucial part of a complete ecosystem.
Eco-friendly culture foregrounds the preservation of nature and a sustainable flow of resources. India, through its rich cultural ethos, stands out in the world of environmentally concerned Nations. However, post modernisation and the cultural shift to city life have heavily damaged the culture, which is evident through its contribution to the rise in carbon emission in prominent places throughout the country.
Since the inception of Covid-19, people have slowly but surely got aware of their malpractices that contribute to the rise in carbon emission and are taking Eco-friendly approaches towards every solution. Even at this stage, India is one of the least wasteful counties. The government is too focusing on shifting the entire country to sustainable green & clean energy.
India has emerged as a significant key player in the Paris Agreement’s Eco-friendly economies through its decisive policies to curb environmental disaster. As a Guru in Eco-friendly practices, India definitely seems to have taken the issues seriously and will hopefully lead the world by spreading its ancient wisdom and scientific facts.