A sacred grove is a plantation of trees of immense religious significance to a specific culture. Sacred groves were generally prevalent in the prehistoric Europe and Ancient Near East, but featured in several cultures across the planet. They were prominent part of the mythological landscape and cult of Baltic, Celtic, Germanic, ancient Green. They were also in practice in India, West Africa and Japan. The most popular examples are Greco-Roman temenos, the Celtic nemeton and Norse horgr, which was widely but not exclusively related to Duridic practice.
The sacred groves are mostly transformed into fields or can be found only in place on the landscape. By the end of the 19th and the inception of the 20th century, these had mostly become urbane lands and meadows. The sacred grove found mention in historical sources can be manifested as a present-day grove and are also treated as sacred place in general. Animals and birds staying in the sacred grove were separated by having a special privilege and religious events held in the sacred groves and were driven by conceptions about the dead and Gods. It was strictly prohibited to break a branch or bring down any tree in the grove.
One of the most significant conventional uses of sacred groves was that it served as warehouse for several Ayurvedic medicines. Other uses included an element of restoring resources like honey and fruits. Nonetheless, in majority of sacred groves it was strictly prohibited to hunt or chop wood. The groves are generally linked with ponds and streams, and cater to the water requirements of local communities.
In exiting time, sacred groves have taken a shape of biodiversity hotspots, as several species seek shelter in the parts due to growing habitat destruction, and hunting. Sacred groves generally include plant and animal species that have become extinct in nearby provinces. In addition, sacred groves in developed landscapes serve as "lungs" to the area as well, offering much required vegetation blanket.
Threats to the grove are urbanization, over-exploitation of resources, and harm done to environment due to religious activities. While several of the groves are considered to be an abode of Hindu Gods, in the past several of them had been a part of cleared structures of shrines and temples.
A wide array of exclusive regional art forms and folk traditions are linked with the deities of sacred groves, and are prominent cultural aspect linked with sacred cultures. Ritualistic dances and dramatizations driven by the local deities that save the groves are called Theyyam in Kerala and Nagmandalam in other parts of Karnataka. Often, huge rituals and traditions are linked with sacred groves, as are associated folk stories and mythology.