A Comparative Study of Local Attitudes and Perceptions of Sacred Groves Between Village Communities in East Khasi Hills, Meghalaya, India

Bennathaniel Hynniewta Diengdoh, S Jayakumar


Sacred groves are a traditional form community forest management and conservation linked with the beliefs, attitudes and perceptions of the communities under whose care they exist. ‘law Ryngkew Lum Swer and 'law Lyngdoh / Mawphlang sacred grove are two sacred groves found in Meghalaya, India. Understanding the attitudes and perceptions of the communities that manage them would grant a better understanding of how the sacred groves are viewed and administered. To this end, a structured questionnaire was distributed at the village of Swer, near 'law Ryngkew lum Swer and the villages of Dongiewrim and Nongrum, located adjacent to ‘law Lyngdoh /Mawphlang sacred grove. A structured questionnaire was distributed and 272 copies were returned duly filled. Cronbach’s Alpha Reliability Test for ordinal data obtained via the implementation of a 5 point Likert Scale tested above 0.7 for both sites indicating high data reliability. Most respondents were aware of the sacred grove in their vicinity, but did not to participate in religious ceremonies associated with sacred groves citing various reasons including gender and religious belief. Respondents stated that rituals have not been conducted at Mawphlang for several decades while at Swer they are still conducted. Notable percentages of respondents at both sites still believe sacred groves to be the dwelling place of spirits who would punish violators. A greater percentage at Mawphlang viewed sacred groves as a source of income and employment than at Swer. This may be because Mawphlang sacred grove is a popular commercial tourist attraction while law RyngkewlumSwer is not. The majority of respondents at both sites felt that sacred groves are of environmental importance and should be conserved.


community forest management, community based natural resource management, conservation, human attitudes, human ecology, traditional customs



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