Odisha schoolteacher demands ‘green dowry’ of 1,001 saplings
When 33-year-old schoolteacher Sarojkanta Biswal of coastal Kendrapara district met his bride during marriage negotiations, his would-be father-in-law was stumped with an unusual dowry demand.
Biswal who teaches science at Jagannath Vidyapith in Choudakulata village of Kendrapara surprised his in-laws when he declined to take any form of dowry for marrying Rashmirekha Paital, also a schoolteacher. “I had promised myself that I would never take dowry. But when my father-in-law insisted that he has to give dowry, I asked him to give me 1001 saplings of fruit-bearing trees,” said Biswal.
The green demand of Biswal, who has been propagating planting of trees for a long time, was accepted by his in-laws. On June 21, the day before marriage, Biswal’s father-in-law sent 1001 saplings, which the science teacher carried in a small van the next day during the marriage procession.
The young schoolteacher distributed about 700 saplings of mango and bakul tree among people of his village Balabhadrapur amidst blowing of conch. To keep the marriage free of sound and air pollution, he also avoided any DJ music or bursting of firecrackers during the procession.
When he arrived at Belana, 60 km away from his home, where his bride waited for him, Biswal walked with no sound of firecracker or marriage band music. There also he distributed saplings to villagers.
“It was always my dream to celebrate my marriage in the greenest possible way. As the convenor of “Gachha Ti Pai Saathi Tiye”(friend for a tree) organisation, I have been spreading the message of the need to plant trees and save the planet from global warming and climate change. I chose fruit-bearing trees as people would be inclined to nurture such trees,” said Biswal.
Biswal’s wife, a teacher in Kamala Nehru Girls’ High School in Cuttack, is happy with her husband’s decision for a dowry-free marriage. If everyone follows his example we can save the environment,” said Rashmi.
Biswal, who hosted a reception in honour of his wife at his village, distributed over 300 saplings that he had got as dowry. To keep the event environment-friendly, he did not use plastic and polythene articles and requested his guests to do the same in their lives.
“I am extremely proud of my son-in-law. He has shown that environment can be saved by deed, not mere words,” said Maheswar Paital, his father-in-law.