Keonjhar: While the households in Odisha are filled with joy by honouring the firstborns of the family and serving varieties of pithas (rice cake) on Prathamastami, a 90-year-old man celebrates the auspicious occasion with trees here in the district.
Ghanashyam Sahoo, a resident of Alati village under Ghasipura block in Keonjhar district, is an environmentalist by his choice. Breaking stereotype of Odia tradition, he prefers to honour the trees he has grown, as the eldest children on Prathamastami.
On the auspicious occasion, Ghanashyam performs all the rituals to honour the trees by tying rakhi (a sacred thread of bond of love) on the trees and offering new clothes. He celebrates the day by offering flowers and pithas to express his care and love towards Nature.
According to reports, the old man has been celebrating Pratahamstami since years in this unique way no only in his village, but also in neighbouring villages.
Despite facing criticism from the villagers initially, he moved on and continued his efforts as part of his love for Nature and greenery.
The sacred initiative had started 41 years ago when his neighbouring village Puruna Bandhagoda was affected in a devastating cyclone on April 16, 1978. Around 182 people were killed and the entire village was void of trees in the calamity. The incident had created a deep line in his mind and he vowed to plant trees and to look after those.
He stood firm on his commitment and begun his mission to grow plants at his garden. He creates sapling at the backyard of his house and subsequently plants those near ponds, roads, open field, government land, schools and on premises of the temples. He takes care of those plants as his children by nourishing them with water.
Several organisations have felicitated Ghanashyam as ‘tree man’ for his initiative and love for Nature.