Sacred groves are reflections of indigenousness, traditions and worldviews, endemic biodiversity and instances of traditional conservation practices.
Tradition of maintaining sacred groves is typical to tribal culture in many parts of Odisha. It is a form of nature worship conducted in relatively inviolate natural sites or typical groves. Nature and Culture have been entwined to each other in sacred groves. Sacred groves are culture markers of tribes. Their supreme god or goddess represented by stones, trees or other natural objects is seated there.
The tradition of sacred groves is linked to their theology, cosmogonical and cosmological myth and other cultural attributes. Rituals and festivals at the site bind the communities together and build collectives. Ethnic groups have differently named their sacred groves. The sites vary in size, location and natural characteristics.
Sacred groves are pockets housing endemic biodiversity. Conservation is a tradition there and their traditional restraints associated with the sites may be seen as incidental conservation consequences such as protection given to totemic animals and plants. Many sacred groves have very old trees and their typical natural associations which are important from germplasm conservation as well as conservation of tribal culture point of view.
The SDC interventions for conservation of sacred groves are targeted to revive and reestablish the inextricable link between culture, environment and development.