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Successful debut for Hindu Environment Week

March 28, 2014:

Thousands of Hindus worldwide took part in the first ever Hindu Environment Week from February 17-24, 2014. Organised by the UK-based Bhumi Project, this impressive debut was marked by discussions, actions and celebrations of the environment in Hindu communities throughout India as well as Europe and the US.

Bhumi Project Manager Gopal Patel, who was himself in Chennai, India to attend the opening of an exhibition about Green Pilgrimage during Hindu Environment Week, noted the significance of the events:

“(It) was historic in many ways. It brought together Hindus from across the world, from different traditions, in a common cause in unprecedented numbers. A rough estimate is that 3,000 - 4,000 people participated in events during the week. In addition, never before have some of the major temples and pilgrimage sites in India held so many events in one week to raise awareness about the environment.”

It was encouraging that statements were issued endorsing Hindu Environment Week and the importance of the environment by Hindu authorities, including Sri Rameshbhai Oza and the office of the Shankaracharya of Dwarka.

While most places held a single event or day of events some sites organised a full 7-day programme. These included the historic Jagannath temple in Puri whose week included tree plantations, cleaning of the temple grounds, and encouraging local businesses to clean the main temple approach road and Varanasi where students at Benares Hindu University held events including a cycle rally to raise awareness about the environment, cleaning of the famous Kashi Viswanath temple and bathing spots on the banks of the river Ganges.

Highlights of the week

Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati of Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh, blesses the globe.
Monday 17
Rishikesh: over 100 devotees pay homage to the river Ganga; Parmarth Niketan Ashram, with Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and Ganga Parivar donate a water purification system to the local community
Varanasi: University students and members of Srishti Sanrakshanam begin massive temple and ghat cleaning drive.
Vrindavan: Students debate the impact of urbanisation to promote environmental awareness.

Tuesday 18
Chennai: Opening of the Green Pilgrimage exhibition by Nanditha Krishna and the CP Ramaswami Aiyar Foundation
Puri/Varanasi: Temple cleaning continues

Launching the Green Pilgrimage Network exhibition at Chennai.
Wednesday 19
Oxford, UK: Bhumi Project host an organic lunch and discussion on environmental issues
Varanasi: mass 10km cycle ride
Allahabad: Temple cleaning and a lecture from Professor Venkatesh Dutta

Thursday 20
Mount Abu, India: Conference and exhibition about the environment at Brahmakumari World Headquarters
Varanasi/Vridavan: art and essay competitions for students on environmental themes

Friday 21
Varanasi: Students enact small plays and skits.
Sri Lanka: Bhumi Project supporters clean Buddhist temples
Mumbai: ISKCON Hindus launch three-day celebration of the environment, including dramas and an exhibition.

Saturday 22
Varanasi: Launch of the Clean Ganga campaign attracts huge turnout
Mumbai: Events and activities to raise awareness about plastic pollution, cow protection and organic farming, with some events seeing over 1000 attendees.

Sunday 23
Dwarka: several hundred Hindus clean the Dwarkadeesh temple and Shardapeeth, also attend lecture by Swami Sadanand Saraswati Ji Maharaj
Porbandar: tree planting by followers of Rameshbhai Oza

Useful links

Green Pilgrimage Network

Bhumi Project

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An outilne of Hindu teachings on the environment
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