Hinduism and Tribal Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Pankaj Jain, Rita Sherma, Madhu Khanna

Kaavu in Kerala (Sacred Groves in Kerala)

  • Rayson K. Alex
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_834-1


Sacred groves are “small forests or stands of trees whose produce is set aside for the exclusive use of a deity” which has conservational and religious values attached to such “pockets of abundant and diverse flora and fauna” [4]. Dietrich Brandis, the first General Inspector of Forest in India, identified the religious conservation of kaavu and termed it sacred grove [1]. Sacred groves have been studied from various perspectives – ethnographic, ecological, theological, sociological, and mythical.

The Ecology of Sacred Groves

Ecologists look at sacred groves as a rich conservatory of “rare and endemic species of plants” [3]. Approximately 13,720 sacred groves are identified in the 19 states of India with maximum number of them in Kerala, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and Tamil Nadu [3]. Sacred groves have withstood the massive deforestation initiated by the British administration in India. But due to various reasons such as population growth, deforestation,...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.
  2. 2.
    Gadgil M, Vartak VD (1976) The sacred groves of western Ghats in India. Econ Bot 30(2):152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Jain P (2011) Dharma and ecology of Hindu communities: sustenance and sustainability. Routledge, London/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kent EF (2013) Sacred groves and local Gods: religion and environmentalism in South India. Oxford University Press, Oxford/New York/AucklandCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Murugan K, Ramachandran VS, Swarupanandan K, Remesh M (2008) Socio-cultural perspectives to the sacred groves and serpentine worship in Palakkad district, Kerala. Indian J Tradit Knowl 7(3):455Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Humanities and Social SciencesBirla Institute of Technology and Science Pilani K. K. Birla Goa CampusZuarinagarIndia