Neralu 2015

The second edition of NERALU, was organized on 7, 8 and 14 February 2015 coinciding with the blooming season of the trees in the city. This year, thousands of citizens came together to celebrate the garden city’s glorious natural heritage at many locations, including NGMA, K.R.Rao Park, Dodamavalli Katte and Bal Bhavan. Citizens of all ages participated enthusiastically in tree walks, listened to talks by naturalists and artists, and appreciated the movies, performances and street plays. Neralu had a lot to offer to the eager participant — art installations, audio walks, photo exhibitions, storytelling sessions, jigsaw puzzles and crosswords. Neralu has been able to bring about a sense of participation and inclusion among Bengaluru’s people in the story of the greatness of its trees.

The festival started on 7 February 2015 at Doddamavalli Katte near Lalbagh where local communities have been using the traditional tree platforms as an integral part of their lives. Here the Peepul, Neem and Banni trees are revered along with snake stones. Various activities were conducted around the Katte to draw attention to this old-world charm that flourishes in many parts of Bangalore.

National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) hosted workshops, talks, audio walks, performances and art installations on the 7 and 8 February. Eminent personalities including Malavika Sarukkai, Mala Kumar, Nagesh Hegde, Suresh Moona, Dr. TV Ramachandra and Vijay Thiruvady presented trees with different perspectives.

On the morning of 8 February, tree walks were held at various locations of the city which introduced the public to trees through cultural and ecological narratives, and a unique photo walk where participants recorded tree-stories. A mini-NERALU event was conducted at M N Krishna Rao Park, Basavanagudi on 8th February, with activities that brought together people of all age groups to enjoy their Sunday morning in the wonderful company of trees.

On Saturday, 14th February, the festivities came to a grand closure at Bal Bhavan, Cubbon Park, with a host of art activities and cultural performances by renowned city artistes M D Pallavi, Shabnam Virmani & Vipul Rikhi (The Kabir Project). Hundreds of citizens participated in the mega hug-a-tree campaign on Valentine’s Day – 14 Feb at Bal Bhavan, connecting citizens with their Natural heritage through this gesture .

Like the previous year, NERALU 2015 too was entirely crowd-funded by citizens, and participation in this citizen-driven festival was open to all. The organisers are Bangaloreans with diverse aspects of trees and nature. The festival has been successfully crowd-funded, with over 150 citizen donors.

Neralu School project : Neralu in collaboration with EcoEdu designed a few fun filled activities that involve a lot of creativity. Some of the activities that were designed for the students are, ‘Adopt a tree’, ‘Measure a tree, ‘Tree poster collage’, ‘Value of a tree’, ‘Tree censuses’ and many more. The response from the schools was overwhelming for us. Schools from all over the city registered for multiple activities. With the limited time allotted to them, the work done by them was really commendable. People who came in to participate in the festival and people who came in just to look around and absorb the love that the trees and the festival gave them were short of words to appreciate the beauty of the projects.

Neralu Photo project : This year, for Neralu 2015, citizens submitted entries with various themes which gave them an opportunity to observe trees in their neighborhood and capture them . There was an overwhelming response to this project . All entries were screened and only a selected number of prints were displayed at the venues of Neralu Tree Festival .

An overview of activities that were conducted during NERALU:

● Heritage, ecological and histo-cultural walks, in multiple localities of Bangalore city
● Talks by experts on history, culture, climate change, ecology and urban spaces.
● Tree journalling, design, mapping, identification and movement workshops
● Documentary and artistic film screenings of local and global narratives about trees
● A curated photo exhibition showcasing tree stories submitted by citizens of Bangalore
● Performances by musicians and folk artists
● Storytelling events involving diverse traditions and forms
● Games and fun activities for children
● Mega hug-a-tree campaign

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Dr. K. G. Kumar, Director, NGMA, said “The effort of Neralu to remember, honour and celebrate the trees of our city, bringing man and nature together, is commendable, and will go a long way in furthering harmonious co-existence. NGMA, Bengaluru is proud to collaborate with the citizens of Neralu, to celebrate this festival for the trees of the city.”

Dr. S Subramanya, Professor of Entomology at University of Agricultural Sciences, Gandhi Krishi Vidya Kendra, who seeded the idea of NERALU and helped shape the festival, said, “NERALU is an amazing initiative. I would like to see it happening every year with an even greater spread of activities and experiences through the city.”

“Anywhere, a social movement can become stronger and successful only when it reaches the younger generation and the general public. Bengaluru has number of varieties of trees. They are not just biological structures but have historical significance too. Neralu is doing a yeoman service in making Bengalurians realize the importance of preserving these trees for posterity”, said Suresh Moona ,Founder Director, AARAMBH.

“Like with great minds and huge old trees ,the wisdom available for free in public festivals like Neralu is immense . So happy to be part of this festival. Thanks Neralu team !”, said Mala Kumar , Editor, Pratham Books .

Noted naturalist Gururaja said “As a scientist, Neralu provided me a platform to interact with citizens. It was a great to connect with trees to people using the Android app. I look forward to educating citizens about the connection between trees and frogs next year .”