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One woman whom future generations in Uttarakhand are not likely to forget is Gaura Devi. She educated the women of this region to protect the trees.
Gaura Devi had no formal education. She was only trained in her family's traditional wool trade, but was aware of the poverty of the region. She was aggrieved to look at the sufferings in her region.
She always referred to the forests as gods because the people of the village were dependent on them for their daily necessities. She respected the green cover as it was not only a source of livelihood but also an important lifesaver for all-flora, fauna and the human species. In an interview Gaura Devi once said, "Brothers, these forests are like our maternal home. We get herbs, fuel, fruits and vegetables from them. Cutting the forests will result in floods."
She educated the people about the importance of forests. It was from there that they retrieved firewood and wood for construction. It was also in that jungle that they took their animals to graze and collected fodder. In their hilly region, trees also prevented landslides.
When the government authorized the felling of the trees in the area and sent contractors to chop trees Gaura revolted against the action she and 27 other women of Reni in Uttarakhand stood in a row around the trees joining hands, each one of them looked like the mountain goddess who had taken one of her fierce forms. They hugged the trees to save them from being axed. Following the first brave Chipko action, the resistance to the destruction of forests spread throughout India and became known as the Chipko Movement. 26th March 1974 is known as the historical day in Chipko Movement.
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