Saturday, February 8, 2014

Neralu – The tree Festival

It was time for the first Tree festival of Bengaluru – Neralu. Neralu (Nezal in Tamil) means ‘Shade’ – an apt name for a celebration of trees at Cubbon Park that provides comfort day after day to many health enthusiasts and vendors during their walks and work.

Here is the website with detailed information:

Alton had arrived at detailed game distributing the session among us, making some of them mandatory and other optional. Really (surprised smiley  - does anyone do that!). Yes but it did help us to gain knowledge that was important to each of us individually.

We started with the Tree walk at 7:30am with Ullas from the Neralu team. Ullas was an IT profession with keen interest in photography, trees and birds. It seems he has been bird-watching from school and this interest could be noticed throughout his talk. At the end of the walk, we managed to cover about 15 trees with their interesting stories and means to identify them. Ullas connected the trees with anecdotes from his childhood – like the fake nails with flowers and strong seed swords that he fought with as a child.

We proceeded to sessions at the Venkatappa Art Gallery.
First one was on observing Seasonal changes through our trees. The talk was about recording data of 25 varieties of trees in all seasons across regions in India. They had prepared a nice informative booklet on how to identify trees and what data to document and report. They had involved schools with projects that are on-going. Currently, it is about creating a comprehensive database that can be interpreted and used in various fields later on – could be to know bird behavior across regions and seasons, climate change impact etc.

This gave way to a talk on “People and biodiversity in Bengaluru” by Harini Nagendra who is part of the Azim Premji foundation. It dealt with information on changing tree numbers, lake characteristics and how they are affected by the people inflow into the city. Harini has also been instrumental in the Kaikondrahalli Lake restoration. 

Afternoon session started with a workshop on “The ground that we sit on” conducted by a group of architects and planners. They revealed through their research that we were currently sitting on “Sampigne Tank” a part of Old Bangalore’s interconnected water system. They made it interesting by organizing an practical walk around the campus, on to the road, to Kanteerava stadium and back to the park which made is realize that water bodies are in grave danger and many have been killed for greed. Supposedly Kanteerava statdium, a part of the cubbon park and some part of MG road area have swallowed the “Sampigne tank” L.

Parallel to this session, there was a discussion on birds with M B Krishna and one on Red Silk Cotton Tree by Sandesh kadur – Both famous and eminent environmentalists in the Bangalore region.
I dint attend the 2nd day program.

The festival is a good start to a string of events that can be organized in the green area. It showcased various naturalists and concerns in today’s urban Bangalore. I think the main purpose was to spark the interest in nature in Citizens especially children. We did see many parents roaming around with children and there were many children-oriented activities happening at Bal Bhavan.

This was a good way to spend the weekend – close to nature and learning more about her. Kudos to the first-time organizers of the festival!

Next Saturday is the Kitchen Gardening workshop by Bhoomi Network - eager to learn how to grow more tomatoes!

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