‘Save Our Forest’, 14th November 2018 – Children’s Day celebration at the Aravali Biodiversity Park, Gurugram

Friends of Aravali Biodiversity Park (an informal collaboration of enthusiasts from various walks of life – birders, ecologists, artists, walkers, runners, photographers, citizens of Gurugram and adjoining parts of Delhi), and the organization iamgurgaon (which originally reclaimed this abandoned quarry in collaboration with Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon and mentored its growth) joined hands to put together a unique way to commemorate Children’s Day at the Aravali Biodiversity Park on November 14, 2018.

Nearly 5000 students from 31 schools participated with their staff and helpers – aided by volunteers from WWF India, SALT event management, Make My Trip, Indigo. Many citizens Gurugram in their individual capacities – arrived at the venue wearing green armbands, carrying posters and placards with messages against pollution and for the protection of Aravali forests.

Through a series of contemplative experiences at the amphitheater of the park – ranging from photographs taken at the park, an installation was created out of handwritten letters by the school children addressed to the Chief Ministers of Haryana and Delhi and the Prime Minister and President of India; requesting them to cancel the proposal to build a 6-lane highway through Gurugram’s “green lungs”. Canvas cloth scrolls signed by students from different schools with messages such as ‘Save our city forest’, ‘Give us our fundamental right to breathe clean air’ lined the walls of the tunnel to the amphitheater -aptly named ‘the tunnel of hope.

About 70 students of various schools and age groups came together at “Teeter Chowk” – deep within the park, and recited a solemn poem, an Ode, and an Oath – for the protection of forests, written particularly for this occasion. These children laid saplings around a banner for saving this reforested patch of land, and proceeded to join hands with one another in a human chain running the length and breadth of the park, spreading out in the four coordinate directions from this point – symbolically demanding not just the protection of this reclaimed forest, but also in solidarity with their struggle as a generation for their right to clean air, and their rightful demand – to save what they had made, “Their” Forest.