God’s Own Garden

     While browsing through the web and passing time I stumbled upon a very interesting village named Mawlynnong. The name is hard enough to say let alone remember it. But the achievement of the Mawlynnong’s villagers is noteworthy and deserves a mention in form of this blog post.

Mawlynnong holds the title of the CLEANEST VILLAGE IN ASIA which can be credited to the hard work of the villagers and their dedication towards their traditional values.

     Mawlynnong is situated in the East Khasi Hills district of Meghalaya, India. It has a population of mere 500 villagers and has around 80 households. The village is 92km away from Shillong and is easily accessible via road. The village is famous for it’s cleanliness and natural attraction.It was awarded the title of ‘ASIA’S CLEANEST VILLAGE’ by Discover India Magazine.

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Mawlynnong- God’s Own Garden

      The adage “Neighbours envy, owners pride” is apt for Mawlynnong. The title of ASIA’S CLEANEST VILLAGE is something every Mawlynnong-wasi is proud of and other villages envy.  The villagers manage to keep their village clean through collective efforts and following some strict rules (values really!) regarding cleanliness.

     Locals sweeping their compounds and roads early in the morning is a common sight. In fact it is their daily routine to do so. Men, women, children every one is involved in this activity. They collect all the the waste in a Khoh– a coarse cone shaped basket made out of bamboo. The leaves and other degradable waste is collected and converted into manure by the villagers themselves.

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Khoh– The cone shaped bamboo baskets used to collect waste
Kids of Mawlynnong cleaning the village.
Villagers of all age groups consider cleaning their surroundings an everyday ritual

     The surrounding woods are also kept spotless by the villagers. THE LIVING ROOT BRIDGE is a fascinating natural wonder and a major tourist attraction in the forest. The pliable tree roots are made to grow through betel tree trunks which have been placed across rivers and streams until the figs’ roots attach themselves to the other side. The bridge is an unique example of man and nature collaborating wonderfully. When I first saw the pictures of this bridge, it seemed to me like it was conjured from the magical Fangorn Forest from the epic fantasy ‘Lord of The Rings’. It is just undeniably beautiful.

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The Living Root Bridge built by the early residents of the village
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The bridge is stabilized by placing sticks and stones over it which also creates a walkway

     Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi mentioned Mawlynnong in his ‘Mann Ki Baat’ radio talk show aired on October 25th, 2015. Modi who is also known for his revolutionary ‘Swaach Bharat'(Clean India) campaign had the following things to say about the village- “I was happy to know that in our country there is such a village in the Northeast, in Meghalaya, which is passionately carrying forward the mission of cleanliness for years. It has become the habit of the residents to maintain cleanliness.”

     “All this infuses confidence in us that our country will surely become clean through the efforts of fellow citizens,” he added.

     Indian culture and tradition emphasizes the values of keeping our household neat and tidy. But somewhere along the road to modernization we have forgotten these values entirely. Indian cities are infamous for being the filthiest cities in the world. The overpopulation leads to development of slums. The massive amount of waste generated by the Indian metro cities is handled and disposed poorly. Delhi and Mumbai- the national and financial capitals respectively are constantly placed amongst the world’s most polluted cities. As a citizen of this country I feel ashamed of the current state I see our cities in. The ‘Clean India’ campaign was a breath of fresh air. It promised changes but after a while that promise faded away.

Rag pickers collect recyclable material at a garbage dump in New
Heaps of waste produced daily in Delhi
An Indian boy walks by the Arabian Sea coast piled with garbage,
Waste laid out along the coast of Mumbai

The direction our society is moving must be examined.

I believe that,

“Development is sometimes just preservation.”

     India, our country has always been “GOD’S OWN GARDEN” but we are failing to preserve it’s integrity. We must all act soon to save all our grace. Mawlynnong is simply the best example of the changes collective efforts can achieve.

Ref.

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