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Hindus announce the first Hindu Environment Week next February

October 29, 2013:

International Hindu environmental network The Bhumi Project is calling on Hindu communities around the world to participate in the first Hindu Environment Week in February 2014.

The planned annual week of celebration and actions is expected to involve thousands of Hindus in communities, schools and temples world-wide. It was launched in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh at a special event organised by the Bhumi Project and hosted by the Mayor of Varanasi, Mr Ram Gopal Mohale. Special guests included a representative from the Kashi Viswanath temple and Prof. Rana PB Singh of Banaras Hindu University.

The Bhumi Project hopes that this annual opportunity to think about the environment will be a time for Hindus to celebrate the natural world, whilst reflecting and committing themselves to increasing their responsibility towards the environment. Gopal Patel, who heads the Bhumi Project and was present at the launch, commented, “By having an annual week of events dedicated to the environment, we hope that Hindus the world-over will feel inspired to make practical changes in their lives that have a positive effect on the environment.”

Some of the events pencilled in for the week-long celebration include conferences, exhibitions, and special eco-events in Indian towns and cities as wide-spread as Rishikesh, Mt Abu, Puri, Mumbai, Srinagar and Varanasi. Some places are choosing to launch environmental assessments of their surrounding areas; the Bhumi Project itself will be launching a Green Temple Handbook. During the week there will be also be a formal launch in India of the story and script of The Hidden Forest in English and Hindi. This is a comic but informative narrative that tells the story of three generations of girls and women who go on pilgrimage in Braj - and how their pilgrimage journey involves assessing their own relationship with the natural world.

A focus of the week will be the environmental challenges many of India’s pilgrim sites are facing. Events are currently being planned by members of the Green Pilgrimage Network in India, a new green collaboration which the Bhumi Project has worked to develop in partnership with ARC (the Alliance of Religions and Conservation).

“In the last two decades pilgrim sites in India have seen significant increases in numbers of pilgrims which has lead to many environmental problems. If we are to preserve them for future generations, then we need to seriously consider the environmental impact of each yatra, or pilgrimage, we undertake.” commented Shaunaka Rishi Das, Director of the The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.

This beautifully designed banner for Hindu Environment Week was unveiled at the event in Varanasi. Mayor Mohale is third from the left in the front row.
Speaking after the launch, Mr Mohale commented, “We are honoured that the Bhumi Project chose Varanasi as the city to launch their new initiative, Hindu Environment Week. As a member of the Green Pilgrimage Network, we are keen to make Varanasi a green city and are looking forward to working with Bhumi to address the environmental concerns facing our city.”

Useful links

Hindu Environment Week

The Bhumi Project

Kashi Viswanath temple

Banaras Hindu University

Green Pilgrimage Network

Green Pilgrimage Network Handbook for Hindus

The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

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