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lives to save endangered animals especially Indian gazelles and antelopes, which are endangered species. 2499-12: Omprakash Bishnoi, advocate and famous poet among Bishnoi community, created like many others his NGO to preserve wildlife and trees. He works with Khamu Ram Bishnoi, judicial assistant, who decided 3 years ago to teach his community how to clean the desert from plastic bags! In India, like in Europe, you get a plastic bag for everything you buy and since there are neither trash bins nor programs to inform people about environment pollution, the problem is getting unsolved. 2499-13: Since 2005, Khamu Ram Bishnoi, Judicial Assistant, Rajasthan High Court at Jodhpur, has declared war on plastic bags. He attends every major Bishnoi festival to hang streamers and surveys from dawn to late at night with his loud-healer to inform while he collects wasted plastic from the sand..., and all that with his meager civil servant salary. "For several years now plastic bags are given with every sold item and people throw them away like former banana leaves" Guru Jambheswhar did not expect that while teaching his 29 rules 500 years back. Since nobody took care of the problem, Khamu Ram Bishnoi dedicated his life to fight for it. In October 2007, he managed to give cotton bags - provided by a seed company - to pilgrims to collect sand from a holy pond near the Samrathal dune, where the Guru founded the Bishnoi religion in 1485. Most pilgrims accepted and thanked him. A huge achievement against plastic pollution awarded by the

Bishnoi community. The holy places are now cleaner but with 100 000 to 500 000 people per festival there is still a lot of work to spread the message and make his dream come true ! In December 2008, he was invited to the International Planetworkshops in Courchevel in France, which brought him even more credit. He seems to be writting the 30th rule ! 2499-14: Mukam mella is Bishnoi major pilgrimage. Twice a year Mukam becomes a huge place of worship and socio-religious gatherings. About 300 000 to 500 000 of them - some by foot - come and worship the place where Guru Jambheshwar did meditate for 7 year and died in 1536. He was buried in Mukam where a huge marble temple was build...like a little Taj Mahal. Havan (holy fire) and Pahal (sacred water) are performed throughout the 3 days of the festival. Huge havan are also performed in Mukam and near the temple at Samrathal Dora. Bishnoi walk clockwise around the fire and through ghee and coconuts into the fire. During the festival they visit 3 holy places in a range of 15km: Pipasar (place of birth), Samrathal Dora (dune where he founded Bishnoi sect), and Mukam (place where he died and was buried in 1536). At the age of 34, Guru Jambheshwar founded Bishnoi religion at Samrathal Dora, a sand dune near Pipasar in 1485 A.D. He preached for the next 51 years, travelling across the country, his 29 commandments. Out of these 29 principles, 8 focus on wildlife and environment protection to preserve biodiversity, 7 give the bases for good social behaviour, 10 are directed towards personal hygiene and good health, and the 4 remaining provide guidelines for worshipping God daily. 2499-15: Just before the storm an old men

is pouring ghee (clarified butter) to offer it to the Havan (holy fire) during Jamba pilgrimage. Bishnois walk clockwise around the fire and throw ghee and coconuts into the huge fire while praying. The fire is supposed to purify air to give better access to their guru. April 2008 was exceptional in many ways...Indeed, the first day of the festival (April 5th) at 6 pm a huge sand storm followed by heavy rain and finally a hail storm knocked the Bishnois down. They thought their Guru was not happy with them and some did pray under the pouring ice near the holy fire that was put out by the storm! It was an apocalypse scene in the desert. Everybody was looking for a shelter... The second day at 6 am a young man drowned in the pond and died (the water got higher at night). Since there was not lifeguard neither any help provided by officials to the family the crowd protested so violently that the police had to urge. Finally, the political meeting was cancelled! 2499-16: In Dhansu village, Haryana, a man prays Guru Jambheshwar. Bishnois have to be barefoot and cover their heads in temples and near holy fires. 2499-17: Near Lohawat village, Bishnoi women harvest ripe millet by hand, dressed with colourful red saris and veils to cover their head and face .. only for married ones. As Guru Jambheshwar told them to love and take care of wildlife, Bishnoi family devotes a part of its harvest to their "children" (black buck, gazelle, peacock, pigeon,...) in order to maintain balance in the desert. 2499-18: A herd of blue bulls grazing in ripe crops is a big problem for most of farmers, not for Bishnois. They would never kill a deer but rather give part of

their harvest to their "children" (black bucks, blue bulls, gazelles, peacocks,...). If herds start to devastate the crops, Bishnois would eventually chase them a bitÉthey are only supposed to share 10% ! 2499-19: Near Lohawat village, Bishnoi women harvest ripe millet by hand, dressed with colourful red saris and veils to cover their head and face ... only for married ones. As Guru Jambheshwar told them to love and take care of wildlife, Bishnoi family devotes a part of its harvest to their "children" (black buck, gazelle, peacock, pigeon,...) in order to maintain balance in the desert. 2499-20: Rajender Delu Bishnoi is one of the richest Bishnoi in Punjab mainly through kinnow farming - a variety of citrus fruit grown in Pakistan and north India, which resembles mandarin oranges. He donated a large amount of money for the new temple in Jamba. His family was the 2nd to migrate from Rajasthan to Punjab in the 1850's. 2499-21: Khejarli temple head priest, Swami Heera Nand, explains what happened in 1730 AD when 363 Bishnois gave up their lives to save trees. Two paintings displayed in the temple depict the scene. "Abhaj Singh, Maharaja of Jodhpur, wanted to build a new royal mansion for which lime was required. Lime stone was available, but it needed to be burnt before use. He sent his soldiers to cut trees in near Bishnoi villages. People protested but it didn't matter until Amrita Devi hugged a Khejari tree and said: "A chopped head is cheaper then a felled tree". Saying these words she offered her head. 363 Bishnois from 84 villages in total gave up their lives either being haxed by soldiers or committing suicide (after taking a bath). When the king heard about

Bishnois : environmentalists by Creed  

Bishnois have made wildlife and environment protection their daily leitmotiv.