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Reviving GOD Trees and Tracing Theyyam Safeguarding the Sacred Groves

Grow more GOD Trees Save Sacred Groves!

A journey back to our roots to trace how our ancestors guarded the sacred groves through theyyam, the ritualistic art form.

We bring 15 storytellers on a seven-day journey through the Northern Malabar of Kerala on a heritage trail to experience Theyyam, the sentinel artform safeguarding the vanishing sacred groves (sarpakavu) along with its conservation. 

Our storytellers will experience the soul of sacred groves by working towards the conservation of the vanishing GOD (Grow Our Dying) trees by planting RET (Rare Endemic and Threatened Species) trees partnering with MSSRF. This species recovery program implemented in a sacred grove will result in planting and conserving many trees endemic to the Western Ghats.

Impact created by Planting Rare Endangered Trees at a Sacred Grove in Northern Malabar

The Campaign in this name will attract many people in India and abroad including ‘The Trillion Tree Campaign'.  The GOD tree campaign is being promoted with planting of 100 selected RET trees in degraded private and community forest lands including sacred groves. The Campaign has high relevance in the context of the UN decade (2021-2030) on Eco-restoration and the SDG 15.

Cherish Expeditions Sacred Grove Warriors and students will undertake the restoration of the selected groves. Restoration of the degraded ecosystems and connecting the fragmented forests has become urgent in the Western Ghats- the most densely populated global biodiversity hotspot. The UN has declared 2021 to 2030 as the decade of eco restoration with a set of targets to be achieved by taking combined actions.

 The team will engage in educating the concerned Local Self Governments to achieve the following 6 targets of the SDG 15. 

  • Target 15.1: Conserve and Restore Terrestrial and Freshwater Ecosystems
  • Target 15.2: End Deforestation and Restore Degraded Forests
  • Target 15.3: End Desertification and Restore Degraded Lands
  • Target 15.4: Ensure Conservation of mountain Ecosystems
  • Target 15.5: Protect Biodiversity and Natural Habitats
  • Target 15.6: Promote Access to Genetic Resources and Fair Sharing of the Benefits

The data compiled under this project will be used by the team to prepare evidence-based case study materials meant for communication, education and public awareness.

Still in doubt? Here are a few takeaways for you!

  • Partake in the campaign, 'Grow more GOD trees and save sacred groves,' to bring awareness by planting RET trees along with globally acclaimed environmentalists. 
  • Our local storytellers will take you through the grandma stories of folklore and myths, which deep dive into telling how our forefathers worshiped and protected nature through an artform. 
  • Virtual interactive section with the psychologist to discover how an ordinary human who does simple daily chores in the daytime transcends to God's avatar (Theyyam) and does inhuman things like firewalking. 
  • Explore the 300-year-old 8 Kettu Taravadu, one of the last remaining two courtyards architecture to experience Kerala's vernacular architecture. 
  • Interactive section with our environmentalist cum photographer who is documenting Theyyam since 2018 on the 'Ethics and importance of being a conscious traveler while documenting religious artform.' 
  • Try your hand on Kalaripayattu, the ancient martial art form, to understand the mind-body alignment. 
  • Be in a meditative space with the Theyyam artists observing and understanding the Mughamezhuthu(face painting for Theyyam) while they are transforming into God.
  • Enjoy a night watching the award-winning Theyyam documentary and dwell yourself in the unheard stories of Theyyam through the filmmaker himself. 
  • Reduce the carbon footprint by traveling in an electric vehicle and pose for drone shots while splashing water through the only drive-in beach in Kerala.
  • Sharing circles to keep the storytellers connected with themselves and with our travel tribe.
  • Tickle your taste buds with the yummiest Thalassery biriyani, the North Malabar cuisine. 
  • Walk to the uninhabited green island through less than knee-deep water as the waves recede during low tide to witness the secrets of nature. 
  • Catch the best sunset at Kerala’s one of the oldest forts overlooking the beach, and Immerse yourself in its story as our local storyteller takes you through its history. 
  • Experience Kerala's largest stepwell, which is an architectural marvel and photographer's paradise.
  • Take a walk through the heritage village to marvel at the bell metal crafts and interact with the craftsmen who have revived the dying art. 

All Photo Credits: Neeraj

Safe to Travel

Cherish Expeditions safety procedures are based on three major aspects:

  • Knowledge and Experience of the Cherish Expeditions Team
  • Knowledge of local population
  • The safety procedures laid down by reputed international organizations