When the land, religion, myth, culture and civilization harmoniously blend together in a small space replete with greenery, we call it kavu a unique and ancient ecological haven common to the land of Kerala. These small verdant patches, deemed sacred in the culture and tradition of Kerala, is home to numerous herbs, plants and trees preserving a special gene pool.
Kavu is the abode of all animism in Kerala. The common man of this land who believed in the existence of soul in all the animate and inanimate things around him worshipped all the elements and phenomenon of nature. Thus we have tree goddesses, mountain gods and forest goddesses in almost all cultures that developed here. It is as part of this reverence that the people of Kerala conserved kavus within the neighbourhood of their homes. Rituals that originated as part of this kavu tradition reflect the folk ingenuity of Kerala.
Inside this unruffled green spots are preserved abundant exotic and rare species of plants like naalppamaram (group of four medicinal plants Ficus carica, Ficus infectoria, Ficus religiosa and Ficus bengalensis), dashapushpam (ten sacred flowers) and many more. Not just this. Kavu plays an important role in stabilizing the ecosystem of the land by conserving soil and water of a region. The small ponds and streams adjoining the kavu are perennial sources of water. The rich debris composition enriches the soil and the nutrients thus generated find their way into the nearby agro system. S. N. Purathu Kavu near Kodungalloor, Theyyottu Kavu, Thadavisserry Kavu and Thazhe Kavu in Kannur and Kammadathu Kavu at Bheemanadi in Kasaragod are some of the known kavus in Kerala.
Sarpa kavu (sacred serpent grove) near traditional homes that developed as part of this kavu tradition though small in size is also of great floral wealth. They are deemed as the abodes of serpent gods and idols of serpent gods are worshiped inside these groves. The thick undergrowth enveloping these sacred groves is full of medicinal herbs.