Indian artists hope images of Hindu gods will save trees

November 1, 2012

(Indian artists paint leaves along the state highway during a campaign to protect the environment at the Madhubani district of the eastern Indian state of Bihar September 28, 2012. REUTERS/Stringer)

Dozens of artists in the eastern Indian state of Bihar are painting roadside trees and their leaves with colorful stories from Hindu epics, hoping to save the region’s already critically sparse greenery.

The unusual campaign, using coats of paint and brushes, has been launched in Madhubani, a northern Bihar district known for its religious and cultural awareness, resulting in hundreds of otherwise untended roadside trees covered in elaborate artwork.

Artists are depicting the moods of deities, scenes from Hindu classics such as the Ramayana and Mahabharata, or an imaginary scene showing an elderly woman restraining a man coming with an axe to cut trees.

They believe the artwork will prompt the deeply-religious locals to drop any idea of cutting down the trees out of fear of incurring the wrath of the deities.

“We are using the deities as a cover”, said Shashthi Nath Jha, who also runs an NGO dedicated to empowering women and child laborers, speaking by phone from Madhubani, around 1,200 kilometers (746 miles) east of New Delhi.

“We thought people will not do any harm to trees once they come across the images of gods and goddesses on them.”
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