You are currently viewing Sundarbans – Connecting Nature to Culture

Sundarbans – Connecting Nature to Culture

Magical Sundarbans, where the mangrove forests invite you to meet the tigers, also home to various species of birds, reptiles, avifauna, aqua fauna, and marine mammals. Every once in a while, some majestic creatures will emerge out of the wilderness and take you by surprise.

For centuries, multicultural societies in the Sundarban mangrove region maintained the balance of human and ecosystem well-being based on diverse traditional knowledge. However, human dimensions of nature and wildlife including traditional ecological knowledge remain largely neglected if not absent in the dominant narratives of biodiversity conservation in the present-day. Millions of people rely on the environmental commons of the Sundarban for their livelihood. The diversity of life in the forest, the ecological features and processes provide communities in the Sundarban with much-needed opportunities for gathering and sustenance activities. Such gathering and sustenance activities include subsistence and artisanal fishing, honey collection, timber collection, seed collection, brackish water fish farming, and locally guided tourism. The site also provides a buffer zone to extreme weather events like tropical cyclones, storms, and floods.

The local people of Sundarbans have gradually embraced a culture of their own over a period of time. A life that is isolated from the mainstream metropolis culture gets expressed in many ways and typically suits the local forest customs and beliefs. There are certain rituals as well as religious festivals observed in this Mangrove Forest. In the Sundarbans, where death can come quickly, its inhabitants have worshipped Bonbibi for centuries as protection from the jungle’s many dangers. The struggle to overcome several natural hazards makes the natives of Sunderbans dependant on supernatural powers.

Sunderbans can be traced in numerous Bengali folk songs and dances focusing on the folk heroes, several deities, and goddesses who are specific to the Sunderbans (Bonbibi and Dakshin Rai). Manasamangal, a Bengali folk epic includes a couple of passages set in the Sunderbans when the heroine Behula’s quests to bring Lakhindar, her husband, back to life.