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Planting Trees in India for Van Mahotsav

Hands patting the ground around a tree sprout

Here in the US, we celebrate trees annually with Arbor Day. In India, they honor trees for an entire week. During the first week of July, communities across India plant trees in honor of Van Mahotsav, or the Tree Festival. Started in 1950 by the then-Minister of Agriculture and Food, K. M. Munshi, Van Mahotsav is intended to raise awareness about the importance of conservation and caring for the environment. 

India has struggled recently with replanting its forests: in 2018, only 22% of the country was forested, below their target of 33%. In the last 30 years, “14,000sq km of forests were cleared to accommodate 23,716 industrial projects.”

Van Mahotsov is an opportunity for communities to come together to protect and maintain their natural resources. The festival is popular among schools, as evidenced by the numerous videos on YouTube from school children explaining the importance of Van Mahotsov and planting trees. It also inspires artwork, such as the ragnoli piece in the video below.

The festival is not just about planting trees. It is about encouraging practices that promote environmental preservation. That includes recycling, buying reusable products instead of single-use products, and talking to your friends and family members about how they can also help to protect the environment. Though Van Mahotsov is a week-long festival in India, its spirit can be celebrated and spread all year round, all over the world.

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