[By Zsuzsanna Gal]
In an atmosphere where every morning newspapers greet people with stories of girls being tormented, raped, killed or treated like a doormat, India’s beautiful small village communities can still bring some good news from time to time. Many parts of India historically favors the birth of a son, but villages like Piplantri in Rajasthan state have a story quite different from the more popular, abused and ill-treated ‘India’s daughter’.
Here, every time a girl child is born, 111 trees are planted in celebration which is not only shows deep respect and happiness towards the birth of a daughter, but also benefits the community and the planet as increasing the green cover in and around it. The community ensures these trees survive, attaining fruition as the girls grow up.
Over the last six years, people here have managed to plant over a quarter million trees as on an average 60 girls are born here every year.
As the part of this beautiful tradition in Piplantri, the villagers also collect 31,000 rupees (US $500) which they give to the girl’s parents. This fixed money ensures that the girl will never be a financial burden to her family, and alleviates some of the stress historically placed on families to provide a dowry for their daughters at marriage.
India has the highest number of child brides in the world. It is estimated that 47% of girls in India are married before their 18th birthday. That is why the most amazing part of this stunning tradition is that parents sign a legal affidavit which states their daughter will only be married once she reaches legal age and has received a proper education, preventing them from early parenthood, vulnerability and domestic abuse.
It’s incredible to see how one tradition can have a positive impact on so many aspects of life. These actions serve as hope for the future of gender equality and sustainability. It all starts with the birth of a girl.