This was the place where we could feel the trees breathe. These gigantic gods overlooking at us as we walked the dark canopy of forest. They sing, dance and talk to each other like a community. Years old, they have stories to tell. ‘The Sacred Grove in Mawphlang, Meghalaya is mystical forest with 800 year old tradition relevant even today.
As we entered we could feel a considerable amount of shift in the temperature. We pull our jackets. We follow our guide, Arnold as he narrates the sacred stories of the forest.
The Khasi folklore goes that there’s a deity that guards the forest, Labasa. La in Khasi means god. The villagers believe that the deity protects their village during crisis.
We pass a number of stone altars. The altars, now covered with green moss, were a part of rituals performed to appease the forest spirits.
The only rule of the forest is you’re not allowed to take anything from here, not even a leaf!
This sacred tradition is in fact an indigenous way of protecting the forest. What once was a way of life now takes name of tradition. The forest was then protected by the Lyngdoh clan. Today the Sacred Forest is owned by the Khasi community of Mawphlang. It is interesting to see that most forests in Meghalaya are not owned by the government, but by the local tribes and communities, who’re known to take better care of the forests.
This forest that spans upto 76.8 hectares is a treasure of 500 tree species. A variety of rare medicinal plants and a number of Rudraksha trees can be found here.
Our hope is that the ones reading this feel the beauty of the forest and endeavor to preserve these beautiful green spaces whichever part of the world they’re in.
For those looking out for eco friendly tourism should get in touch with Journeys With Meanings.