The Centre for Sacred Groves, KISS-DU organized a seminar on ‘The Worldview of Jahera/Gram Sala: The Sacred Groves among the Tribes of Odisha’ on 30th July 2022. Dr. Surendra Kumar Jena, State Team Lead at MAMTA – Health Institute for Mother and Child, an anthropologist, and social development professional delivered the lecture.

Expressing gratitude to Prof. Achyuta Samanta, Founder, KISS & KIIT for his remarkable service to the tribal community, Dr. Jena said, “We should look to KISS as a living example if we truly desire tribal upliftment”. Dr.  Jena outlined the demographic profile of Odisha’s tribal people and explained the significance of holy forests in tribal communities. He focused on three distinct settings in both traditional and contemporary contexts. These were the Hill Kharia of Similipal in Mayurbhanj-Jahera, which exhibit the traditional bending of holy grooves. The second was Koraput’s Paraja: Kanta Bausuni, which means “beyond the primitive locality.” Pauri Bhuyan of Keonjhar’s Gram Sala represents Pluralism in a social institution.

Dr. Jena shared his observation that sacred groves have lost their value due to extensive commercial exploitation of forests in this century. The disappearance of holy grooves began with agricultural growth in the Indian plains. Finally, he commended and thanked KISS-DU for building such a wonderful centre and advised that we conserve and cherish the three J’s of nature: Jal, Jungle, and Jamin.

In his address, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Deepak Kumar Behera spoke about the seven innovative centres (Centre for Indigenous Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Centre for Sacred Groves, Centre for Indigenous Cultural Heritage and Diversity, Centre for Indigenous Science and Technology, Centre for Indigenous Knowledge on Herbal Medicines and Therapeutics, Centre for Indigenous Languages and Narratives and Centre for the Study of Indigenous Peoples across the Globe) and said that the purpose of the Research Centres under the Innovation Council of KISS-DU is to undertake research activities in Tribal Studies from multidisciplinary perspectives. He also shed light on the Jahera and Gram Sala and their culture.

Dr. Prashanta Kumar Routray, Registrar, KISS-DU spoke on the aims and objectives behind establishing these Innovation Centres at KISS-DU and highlighted the significance of the topic of the seminar for the students. Dr. Manoj Kumar Behera, Director, Centre for Sacred Groves, KISS-DU briefed about the aims and objectives of the centre and brought to light some of the activities organized by the Centre in the recent past. Dr. Sujata Acharya, Principal introduced the speakers and spoke briefly on the significance of the topic.

Dr. B. B. Mishra, Professor Emeritus summarized the session. The workshop concluded with a question-and-answer session moderated by Ms. Susmita Sahoo of School of Tribal Heritage and Tribal Indology. Dr. Pratikhya Badanayak, Home Science Programme proposed a Vote of Thanks.

The session was coordinated by Dr. Manoj Kumar Behera, Director, Centre for Sacred Groves, and moderated by Dr. Neha Jha, Assistant Professor, Psychology Programme, School of Tribal Heritage and Tribal Indology, KISS Deemed to be University.