The South Eastern Coalfields Limited, the largest coal producer of India, is finding it hard to expand its mine in Lat area of Raigarh, Chhattisgarh. In its way stands a “divine” obstruction – Devlas.

Devlas refers to the land that the local Baiga tribe believes is the abode of its deities. One such holy piece of land lies in the middle of the plot the SECL is seeking to acquire.

The Baiga believe that their deities reside in the bamboo branches growing on Devlas. There are strict rules for removing the deities. Not following the rules, the villagers insist, is an invitation to divine wrath. So, what are these rules? Most important, the custom requires the sacrifice of a goat for every bamboo branch cut. Read more