Bargad: Teaching Children About the Environment

Bargad, by Subhash Kommuru

BARGAD, by Subhash Kommuru, Illustrations by Sujata Kommuru

My guest today is Subhash Kommuru, who has a written a picture book about Bargad, the banyan tree, the effects of modernization on the environment, and the importance of connecting children to their cultural heritage. I’ve reviewed the book below, but first, I asked Subhash to do a guest post on the effects of modernization on the environment and the banyan trees in particular. Without further ado, please welcome Subjash Kommuru!

Guest Post:

Modernization has profound impact first on humanity and then on environment. It couldn’t have been any other way. As we modernize we slowly let go of our old belief and call it superstition. We also use science to justify that. There is a festival mentioned in my book, Bargad, Vat Savitri. Vat in Vat Savitri, is referred to Bargad and Savitri is name of a woman. The way legend goes, Young Savitri lost her husband so she held on to her husband’s body under Bargad and fought with angel of death asking for his life back. She was persistent and wouldn’t let go of him. Finally tired, angel of death wants to make a deal with her and he says “Savitri, I will give you anything you want but only condition is you cannot ask for your husband’s life.” She takes up the offer and she says “Ok, give me a happy family with lots of kids.” Angel of death happy to see that this indeed is something that can be offered, grants her wish and about to walk away with her husband, when Savitri interrupts and says “If you take my husband away, how do you suppose I have kids?” So angel of death is forced to give back her husband’s life. That is the story behind celebrating Vat Savitri every year by tying thread around Bargad, the Banyan tree. Now throw modernization into mix and use science to justify why it does not make sense. But pause for a second and think about why is the legend set around a Banyan tree which has no visible fruit or flower? Could it be that if we don’t value them be it by story or festival, you would get tempted to get rid of it? Would our generation have ever seen this tree? What would life be without a tree which lives for centuries keeps environment cooler, literally, during hot summer days if you sit under banyan tree its much colder.

When you look around in India there are many such values which are being overlooked. India has an opportunity to learn from western world pitfalls of industrial growth and how to remediate that or plan accordingly. It’s matter of pausing, thinking planning and then executing.

Synopsis:

A tree that has used its branches to keep people safe for many decades now needs help from those same people to save itself. In Hindi, Bargad means Banyan Tree, the national tree of India. Bargad is a compelling story of love, compassion and gratitude that incorporates the Banyan tree as a way to teach children how to care for and respect many things – from family to the environment, in a way that is easy-to-understand. While this wonderful old tree has withstood all the challenges of time, will it now be able to withstand modernization and will any of the people in the small village come to its aid to help save it the way it has helped save them over generations?

 

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Bargad on Goodreads

 

Review, by A. R. Silverberry:

 

Bargan is a moving story about honoring traditions and the sacred communion between man and nature. Poignant and powerful, it brought tears to my eyes. The words are tender and hopeful, the illustrations whimsical and sweet. A wonderful tale for children of all cultures!

Excerpt:

 

Bargad, an excerpt

Bargad, an excerpt

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Subhash Kommuru, Author of Bargad

Subhash Kommuru, Author of Bargad

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