The afterword reflects on the contributions this study makes to our understanding of the religious dynamics surrounding Tamil sacred groves and of human-ecosystem interactions. Critiquing previous studies of sacred groves that are content to generalize about the religiosity surrounding these sites, the chapter argues that the ideological system that limits human exploitation in sacred groves consists of variegated combinations of several elements: taboos on the use of forest produce, tales of divine punishment for transgression, possession rituals to ascertain the will of the divine, and sacrifices to restore harmony between humans and deities, whose connectedness to a mythologized past cements a community’s group identity. It also highlights the unique potential, and the challenges, inherent in ecological restoration projects such as those profiled in this study, where understanding and intervening effectively requires knowledge not only of biological systems, but of cultural dynamics as well.
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