The residents of this village in India have a unique way of honoring the birth of a daughter – they carry out a ritual in which they plant 111 trees.
This is quite unusual in Asian cultures as often the birth of a girl is not desired as much as a boy because the dowry system can put a financial burden on the parents. Usually the birth of a boy would be more of a reason to celebrate.
You might be wondering why such a specific number. In Indian culture 111 is considered to be a number which brings success, and this ritual was founded upon the idea of bringing success and prosperity to the village.
By doing this, the villagers of Piplantri, Rajasthan, are trying to combat the cultural prejudice against daughters, with the added benefit of making their homeland more beautiful in the process.
This practice started in 2006 when the former leader of the village, Shyam Sundar Palawal, decided to honor the death of his daughter Kiran.
He felt the urge to do something that would ensure the protection and care of girls in the village in future, so he launched the program in order to help the local environment as well as raise money for the girl’s family. To this they they continue the custom every time a girl is born.
Planting the trees is only one aspect of this tradition. The villagers will also come together to raise funds for the young daughters, 30,000 rupees ($480) for each girl, in order to ensure they will always be provided for. This money is set aside aside as a fund to be available if needed for the next 20 years.
As an act of reciprocity, the parents sign an oath to say the girl will not be married until she is at least 18 years old and that she will receive a proper education.
This well thought out idea has worked out positively for the village, and also for it’s young girls, over the last decade. The planting of fruit trees ensures there are plenty of resources for the expanding population of the village. Approximately 350,000 trees are planted each year given that around 60-65 girls are born.
Due to this one man’s compassion, hundreds of girls have been gifted a better start in life, going on to become independent and self sufficient, and over a quarter of a million trees are bearing fruit.