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Young Gautam, on the right, aged but three and clutching a pongamia sapling, is iconic of the spirit of Nainar Kuppam. This fishing village is the venue of GoodNewsIndia Foundation's first experiment with growing trees yielding oils that can be used as diesel substitutes.

On Sep 04, Nainar Kuppam completed setting into the ground 1003 pongamia saplings. The completion ceremony was an enthusiastic community affair and before you read a report that follows here, you would probably want to view a slide show or see individual pictures.

Well, the event began at 3pm. But ladies of the village had been at work for hours before, decorating the street with kolams. Men were setting up chairs and despite specific instructions to the contrary, a public address system. When guests began to gather from 3pm onwards, the most crucially planned nadaswaram piper team had not arrived. The PA system was instead, blaring tattered music.

Even as the guests were getting slightly restive, an auto rickshaw raced in, screeched to a stop, and out tumbled about 5 men with gear: the piper and his team! The brief puja then began to bless saplings. Women stood in two rows on either side of the shrine, 3 saplings each on plates. The piper was blowing away for lost time and we were well underway.

A fair crowd had gathered outside, bouncy children dominating. The parade then began. The musicians led, children holding saplings and women with saplings in plates followed and men brought up the rear. Photographers from the Economic Times and Junior Vikatan got into the mood; the parade was stopped on the beach for over 15 minutes for a photo opp.

When it resumed, the parade wended its way to the eastern most pit. This was to be planted by Professor Udipi Shrinivasa, who has done great work in raising awareness about the use of vegetable oils in diesel engines. Pit number two was planted by Professor Sultan Ismail a keen environmentalist and vermi-compost expert. Pit number three was planted by Mr Nayeemullah, Prof Shrinivasa's understudy and colleague for over a decade.

Then it was free for all. Children, women, men and visitors scrambled for locations to set in their saplings. The enthusiasm was palpable.

When it was all over, people lingered on moved by the significance of what they had participated in. 1003 saplings were beginning a 5 year long journey. In the end they will, hopefully show that trees can replace oil fields.