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Posted on Jan 26, 10:54AM | IANS
As India celebrates Republic Day, a group of greens has put up an exhibition of paintings and photographs to glorify the evergreen trees along one of Panaji's most cherished quarters.
The trees, gnarled and almost like a canopy, pre-date India's Republic day by several dozen years and have been saved twice by residents when a 'road widening' project threatened to fell them all.
"The trees, in addition to protecting the city from the vagaries of nature, also provide a charming umbrella to walk under," Nicole Suares, a photographer and one of the key persons behind the exhibition, says.
"Recording these becomes a testament of the past, something that future generations can benefit from. Art is a beautiful way of protecting their memory," says Suares.
The exhibition has select work featuring these trees sourced from nine photographers as well as paintings of the 'Gulmohar' flower.
The magnificent Gulmohars, with their blazing red-yellow canopy, along with other trees like the 'Akesh Chameli' and Acasia, are some of the trees that dot the river-facing Dayanand Bandodkar road, which runs from central Panaji to Miramar beach.
"There are a number of rain trees and yellow carpet trees that dominate the Campal road. If you walk a little further up, we have the large banyan tree outside the Sports Department where I recall the Art College bus used to stop in the old days.
"There was not a single boring moment as the tree had so many stories to tell," Suares says, recalling the squirrels and birds which would dart across its branches and bark.
Harshada Kerkar said that earlier attempts by the government to cut those trees had been repelled by residents who came up with the Goan version of the Chipko movement in 2006.
A human chain that year saved the trees from being hacked in the name of road expansion but indiscriminate cutting of roots ended in some trees folding over.
"Exhibitions like these help in creating awareness for a cause. In this case it calls for attention for the protection of trees," Kerkar said.
"And there's no better way to make a statement than through the creative medium. Each photographer or artist aesthetically captures an important message, aspect of the theme in his work.
"Since art goes beyond social barriers, it becomes a key vehicle for change," she said.