Preserving Orans: The Sacred Groves of Western Rajasthan

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March 10, 2024

Preserving Orans: The Sacred Groves of Western Rajasthan


  • Communities in western Rajasthan are expressing concern over the State’s proposal to designate orans, the sacred groves, as deemed forests. Orans hold profound cultural and ecological significance, particularly in Rajasthan, where they have been preserved and managed by rural communities for generations.

Understanding Orans:

  • Orans, emblematic of Rajasthan’s cultural heritage, are traditional sacred groves intricately woven into the fabric of rural life. These community forests are revered and safeguarded through local institutions and customs, which deem them sacred. Often associated with local deities, Orans boast rich biodiversity and frequently feature water bodies within their boundaries.

Historical Conservation Efforts:

  • For centuries, communities in Rajasthan have upheld the conservation of Orans, recognizing their vital role in sustaining both ecosystems and livelihoods. These groves serve as communal spaces for grazing livestock, hosting social gatherings, festivals, and other agrarian activities, all of which underscore the community’s commitment to environmental preservation.

Ecological Significance:

  • Orans serve as critical habitats for numerous plant and animal species, including the Great Indian Bustard (GIB), India’s most critically endangered bird. Protected under the Wildlife Protection Act and designated as the State bird of Rajasthan, the GIB finds refuge in these sacred groves, highlighting their importance for biodiversity conservation.

Understanding Sacred Groves:

  • Beyond Rajasthan, sacred groves, known by various names such as Kavu/Sarpa Kavu in Kerala, Devarakadu/Devkad in Karnataka, and Deorai/Devrai in Maharashtra, are cherished remnants of forest ecosystems revered by local communities. These groves act as biodiversity hotspots, offering sanctuary to a multitude of plant and animal species of conservation significance.


  • The proposed classification of Orans as deemed forests raises valid concerns among communities in western Rajasthan, given the deep-rooted cultural, ecological, and social significance of these sacred groves. Preserving and recognizing the unique status of Orans is imperative not only for safeguarding biodiversity but also for honoring the enduring bond between rural communities and their natural heritage.

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Preserving Orans: The Sacred Groves of Western Rajasthan | Vaid ICS Institute