Artists painting roadside trees and leaves in Madhubani district of Bihar Image Credit: Lata Rani

Patna: Artists from a district in India’s Bihar state have found a quirky way of helping to save thousands of trees.

The artists in Madhubani district have been painting trees and leaves — with coats of vibrant colours depicting images of Hindu deities — to save the environment on a stretch of five kilometres from Rampatti to Rajnagar locality in Madhubani district.

In the past three years since the campaign was launched, many trees in that area which normally were the prime targets for local villagers have been spared the axe.

The artists’ logic was that the depiction of deities on trees would deter people from cutting trees and the idea has proved successful.

The tree art, in the style of the of world-famed Madhubani painting, has now made the entire area so beautiful passers-by can’t resist taking selfies.

Madhubani painting, also known as Mithila painting, is a style of Indian painting practised in north-eastern region of Bihar which is done with fingers, twigs, brushes, nib-pens and even matchsticks using natural colours and is characterised by eye-catching geometrical patterns.

There are paintings for various occasions and festivals — such as births, marriages, Holi — and also about Hindu legends.

“Normally, the Hindus revere trees but they virtually stopped cutting them once we painted the tree trunks with different images of deities,” Siya Devi, one of the artists associated with the tree painting campaign, says.

“Previously, the sight of people cutting roadside trees was quite common. Now this gives us much satisfaction to see the crowds of tourists paying visits to this particular area to see the painted trees and capture them in their cameras,” she added.

The idea is the brainchild of a local villager Shashthi Nath Jha who has been working for the women empowerment and rehabilitation of child labour.

“The sight of people cutting trees with axes and saws always gave me a lot of pain. I tried to convince them this was not good for environment but they never took it seriously. So I thought upon the plan to paint scenes from Hindu classics or images of Gods on the tree barks thinking it can work significantly, and yes, it has begun working now,” claims Jha who works for Gram Vikas Parishad, an NGO.