The religious use and protection of plants among the Brahmin and Limbu people of Ilam, Nepal
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- Master's theses (INA) 
It is important to study if religious beliefs and practices in using sacred plants by different ethnic groups influence in the cultivation and protection of these plants. Such knowledge can be used to formulate sustainable management strategies. In spite of that, the study of the role of religious and cultural variation within indigenous groups of people in the use and management of natural resources has been given limited attention. This research was conducted on the major religious plants worshiped and used by the Bramhin and the Limbu people of Mangalbare and Siddithumka villages of Ilam district in eastern Nepal. The objective of this study is to explore if variation in religious beliefs and cultural practices between the Brahmin and the Limbu people influence abundance and distribution of religious plants. Sociocultural data of religious beliefs on sacred plants and their uses in the rituals were analyzed on the basis of the interview with the Brahmin and the Limbu priests from each village. The relative measure of the abundance and occurrence of religious plants in the two different villages was calculated using common ecological approaches of sampling such as quadrat, transect and relascope counts. The findings of the study reveal linkages between the religious beliefs and cultural practices of Brahmin and Limbu with the cultivation and the management practice of religious plants. These beliefs and practices are found effective in the cultivation and protection of sacred plants in the gardens and villages of Brahmin and Limbu. The most religious plants are strongly protected and actively planted by both Brahmin and Limbu. The number of plants utilized and managed by Brahmin and the Limbu is regulated by the difference in their religious beliefs and worship of their deities. Among the Brahmin and Limbu, Brahmin worship more deities, have more rituals and use more religious plants than Limbu. As a result, they cultivate and protect more religious plants in their gardens and villages in comparison to Limbu. The study and analysis of such diversity in the religious beliefs and practices are of critical value to understand the variation in the distribution of sacred plants in different localities. Such practices may be particularly important for some vulnerable plants (e.g. Elaeocarpus sphaericus) which are common in the Brahmin and Limbu villages. This disparate indigenous cultural knowledge can be integrated into the formulation of new local approaches of resource management.