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PRESS RELEASE New story for schools inspires a greener understanding of Hindu traditions

April 17 2013:

The Hidden Forest uses an engaging and often humorous story to bring to life the realities of Green Pilgrimage

International Hindu environmentalist network The Bhumi Project is publishing a newly-written tale about a family of women on a pilgrimage through the Indian region of Braj to the sacred city of Vrindavan. Written by Jahnavi Harrison with younger readers in mind, The Hidden Forest captures the mystery, excitement and humour of their journey as two girls, their mother and grandmother make their way on foot and by cart through sacred forests and temples to reach the banks of the Yamuna river.

On the way the pollution and environmental degradation they find makes them reflect on the sad contradiction between the reverence shown to Hindu deities and the disrespectful exploitation of nature that even pilgrims can be part of. The story ends on a positive note, however, with some clear and simple messages about how our heroines rediscover traditional ways of pilgrimage that can contribute to cleaning up sacred sites and the world beyond.

With vivid descriptions of pilgrim encampments and sacred dances and drawing on many classic tales from Hindu tradition The Hidden Forest combines an engaging story with a serious message, making it ideal for use in schools. “We hope that within India this can be an empowering resource for women in rural areas, “ says Bhumi Project Manager Gopal Patel. “Women and girls in particular will hopefully be inspired to realise that they have a powerful role to protect the environment.”

As well as being a great book to read The Hidden Forest is also available in script form, making it ideal for school performances in either English or Hindi. With many opportunities to include elements of music and dance the play can last anything from 30 to 60 minutes and provides an entertaining and informative exploration of Hindu traditions and values suitable for any young audience.

Hidden Forest author Jahnavi Harrison is also a highly acclaimed musician and singer of kirtan devotional music.
The story reflects the Bhumi Project’s engagement with the Green Pilgrimage Network, and especially the Indian chapter of the Network involving 11 sacred destinations, including some Hindu, that was launched in October 2012.

The Hidden Forest is being launched on April 26, 2013, in London, UK, as part of Women of Bhakti, a multi-media event looking at many aspects of bhakti yoga. As well as introducing her book with Gopal Patel, Hidden Forest author Jahnavi Harrison will be leading a session of celebratory kirtan singing during the evening’s programme.

Useful Links

The Hidden Forest - script version

Women of Bhakti

The Bhumi Project

The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies

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