Tuesday, January 22, 2013


http://blogs.wsj.com The Kumbh Mela, the largest religious gathering on Earth, began Monday in Allahabad, a city in northern India's Uttar Pradesh state. Between 80 and 100 million Hindus are expected to take part in the 55-day festival, bathing at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna, sacred rivers believed to cleanse sin and enable devotees to escape the cycle of death and rebirth. Environmentalists and religious leaders, concerned about the impact of such vast numbers of pilgrims camping on 20 square miles of floodplain, are hoping to appeal to the religious consciences of the visitors and encourage them to become more eco-conscious. 
For the first time at a Kumbh Mela, which takes place every three years, there is a "Green Camp" for pilgrims. The camp is backed by India's newly formed Green Pilgrimage Network, which aims to protect pilgrimage sites and make them more environmentally sustainable.

"We started with the concept that we should make this the green Kumbh Mela," said Chidanand Saraswati, a Hindu swami, or holy man, who is leading the eco-friendly camp - Global Sangam - on the banks of the Ganges. "Hindus have always cared for the environment but people have started to forget because of population growth and lack of resources," said the swami, who is also leader of the Parmarth Niketan an ashram in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand. "But when they see their leaders and their gurus going in the green direction, they will follow," he told The Wall Street Journal's India Real Time.
The camp is using recyclable steel plates and utensils instead of plastic. It also has eco toilets, filtered drinking water instead of plastic bottles and will organize litter picking collections and tree planting along the banks of the sacred river. The local government and the High Court in Allahabad have also banned the use of plastic bags at the festival for the first time.

In order to raise awareness of the plight of the rivers at the Triveni Sangam (three river confluence), Kusum Vyas, founder and president of a U.S.-based environmental group called Living Planet Foundation said: “The rising population, illegal sand mining and dams cause a lot of stress on the environment and the rivers are the biggest casualties.” ... “It’s a lack of awareness, there has never been a campaign from the bottom up to educate people,” Ms. Vyas added. The Mela administration, led by the Commissioner of Allahabad,  has installed 35,000 individual toilets at the site, up from just over 20,000 at Allahabad’s last Kumbh Mela in 2001, when a total of 80 million gathered at the Allahabad confluence, where Hindus believe a mythical river, Saraswati, intersects with the Ganges and Yamuna, explains the author of the article, Joanna Sugden, a freelance journalist.

The Indic environmental ethos declares that all aspects and phenomena of nature belong together and are bound in a physical as well as metaphysical relationship, and views life as a gift of togetherness and of mutual accommodation and assistance in a universe teeming with interdependent constituents. Agenda 21 has to be implemented with this sense of spirituality, morality and universality if religion is to play a significant role in creating and sustaining a momentum for ecological conservation in the hearts and minds of men, women and children. The Indic approach to the environment is even today a part of the living legacy of India. That legacy often seems to be embattled and imperilled all around, and yet it is endowed with an uncanny and time-tested resilience. In that resilience, there is hope and promise for India and the rest of the world.

H. E. Dr Laxmi Mall Singhvi
Former President of the World Congress on Human Rights
“The East is green” - August 1996.

Published by dasavatara das - "Vedic Views on World News"

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