Environment & Biodiversity


  • Oran Bachao Yatras are being held in Rajasthan to protect orans, or sacred groves, that are under threat of destruction as a result of land being allotted for renewable energy infrastructure and high-tension power lines.
  • Orans are Community Conserved Areas that are protected because of their sacred values.
  • They include woodlots, pastures, orchards, sacred groves, and habitats that are typically centered on water sources such as natural springs, rivulets, or man-made ponds.
  • In addition, at the heart of an Oran, there is usually a shrine dedicated to a local deity.
  • Their traditional boundaries are defined by landmarks or geographical landmarks established by indigenous and agro-pastoral communities.
  • Orans are typically distinguished by a strong community-territory bond and a well-functioning governance system.

Reasons for the Yatra

  • As small forest patches in the middle of the vast Thar desert, orans, named after local deities and mediaeval warriors, hold religious and social significance.
  • The natural habitat of India’s most critically endangered bird, the Great Indian Bustard (GIB), a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Act and the State bird of Rajasthan, is also formed by orans.
  • GIBs have died in recent years as a result of collisions with power lines, making this the most serious threat to the majestic birds.

Historical references

  • Sacred groves in India are frequently associated with temples, monasteries, shrines, pilgrimage sites, or burial grounds.
  • Sacred groves are mentioned in Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist texts, ranging from sacred tree groves in Hinduism to sacred deer parks in Buddhism.
  • Sacred groves are loosely defined as natural habitat that is protected on religious grounds.
  • Other historical references to sacred groves can be found in Vrukshayurveda, an ancient treatise, as well as ancient classics like Kalidasa’s Vikramuurvashiiya.
  • Green patches, such as Nakshatravana, are becoming increasingly popular.

Regulation of activities in Sacred Grooves

  • Within these patches, hunting and logging are usually strictly prohibited.
  • Other forms of forest use, such as honey collection and deadwood collection, are occasionally permitted on a sustainable basis.
  • NGOs collaborate with local villagers to protect these groves.
  • Members of the community have traditionally, and in some cases still do, taken turns protecting the grove.

Threats to such grooves

  • Urbanization and resource over-exploitation are two threats to the groves.
  • While many of the groves are revered as the homes of Hindu deities, a number of them have recently been partially cleared for the construction of shrines and temples.

Total grooves in India

Around 14,000 sacred groves have been reported from all over India, which act as reservoirs of rare fauna, and more often rare flora, amid rural and even urban settings.

Experts believe that the total number of sacred groves could be as high as 100,000.

They are called by different names in different states:

  • Sarna in Bihar
  • Dev Van in Himachal Pradesh
  • Devarakadu in Karnataka
  • Kavu in Kerala
  • Dev in Madhya Pradesh
  • Devarahati or Devarai in Maharashtra
  • Lai Umang in Maharashtra
  • Law Kyntang or Asong Khosi in Meghalaya
  • Kovil Kadu or Sarpa Kavu in Tamil Nadu
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