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PRESS RELEASE: US Hindu Temples Endorse Green Pilgrimage Network

October 4, 2011:

The Green Pilgrimage Network initiative was endorsed last week by some 280 primarily US-based Hindu delegates, representing more than 100 temples and Hindu organizations from across the world at the sixth annual Hindu Mandir (Temple) Executives' Conference (HMEC) in Columbus Ohio.

The Green Pilgrimage Network is being launched on November 1 in Assisi Italy, by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) in the presence of HRH Prince Philip, who is ARC’s founder.

The vision is of pilgrims on all continents, and the pilgrim cities which receive them leaving a positive footprint on the earth. Founding members include Amritsar for Sikhs, Assisi for Catholics, Etchmiadzin for Armenian Orthodox Christians, Luss for Church of Scotland, Kano for Nigerian Muslims, St Albans for Church of England, Trondheim for Norwegian Lutherans. Several Hindu cities in India have expressed initial interest.

“The Green Pilgrimage Network presents an unprecedented opportunity to Hindus to reclaim the ecological vision inherent in our culture and share it with the rest of the world. Our temples must become models of care and respect for the environment, reflecting the deep values of Vedic tradition,” said Kusum Vyas, Hindu Climate Change Ambassador at the meeting.

“I am intrigued. This is a very important initiative and I will help the Green Pilgrimages team connect with locations and projects with most need and impact,” said Mr. Ashok Singhal, President of World Hindu Council.

“Regarding Green Pilgrimage Network initiative to bring back a pristine, serene and welcoming environment at our temples and places of pilgrimage, the HMEC in North America strongly welcomes and supports the idea that our temples have a role to play in helping conserve the environment and save Mother Earth. This is a core value practice of Sanatana Dharma, intrinsic to its sustainable nature,” said Dr. Abhaya Asthana, Program Co-Chair.

“The Hindu Students Council is proud to support the Hindu Green Pilgrimage Network This is just one of the many shining possibilities that can manifest out of a Dharmic philosophical foundation, and many more such projects need to be taken up for the well being of mother earth and all life,” said Ravi Jaishankar, General Secretary, Hindu Students Council, which has some 2,000 members in 40 Chapters at major universities in the US.

"I support and commend the Green Pilgrimage Network for its work to protect the ecological integrity of the planet's ecosystems, especially the areas in and around our planet's holy pilgrimage sites. We as Temples and religious organizations are the stewards of these holy places, both from a spiritual and an environmental point of view, and we need to adjust our practices as necessary to support this goal of conservation, rejuvenation, and beautification of these holy places," said Swami Nikhilanand Pracharak for Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat, Radha Madhav Dham.

“I am ecstatic about the Green Pilgrimage Network initiative in the religious organizations,” said said Srilekha Reddy Palle, Executive Secretary at the Durga temple in Virginia, which is the first Bhagwati Durgaji temple built in the USA. “Devotees spend majority of their time after home and work at the temple. We, as delegates and those in leadership roles, should strive to put forth any green initiatives in our place of worship in the best interest of our devotees. We should create a greener environment in the temple and encourage organizations such as this in order for them to create an environment that pursues the path which leads all of us to the goal of cleaner and greener environment within our organizations,”

The Sixth HMEC was held from September 23 to 25 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Columbus, Ohio. It was attended by participants from throughout the mainland USA, Hawaii, New Zealand, Canada and Australia. It is an annual meeting aiming to explore the expanding role of temples to meet the ever changing needs of North American Hindus and to develop a network of all Hindu temples in North America.

For more on the Green Pilgrim Cities programme click here.

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