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ARC Home > Projects > Green pilgrimage network :
GPN-India Chapter | GPN India launch | Green Kumbh Mela 2013

Green Kumbh Mela 2013

Tents set up to shelter some of the 80 million pilgrims expected to attend the 2013 Kumbh Mela

Some of the anticipated 80 million pilgrims attending the 2013 Kumbh Mela at Allahabad, India will be able to stay in a 'green camp' where plastic utensils and bottles will be displaced by reusable metal plates and cutlery while eco toilets will reduce the polluting impact of human waste. During the festival these green pilgrims will also take part in cleaning up operations as well as tree planting to redress the carbon footprint of what is thought to be the biggest human gathering on the planet. Their environmentally-friendly pilgrimage will be greatly helped by a ban on plastic bags imposed by the local authorities for the first time at this years festival.

The greening initiative was celebrated at a meeting on January 19, 2013 co-organised by ARC and the Bhumi Project, a worldwide Hindu environmental network, and hosted by Pujya Swami Chidandad Saraswati from the Parmath Niketan ashram in Rishikesh. Important political figures were among the guests, including the Governor of Uttarakhand, Dr Aziz Qureshi, the Mayor of Allahabad, Abhilasha Gupta, and the Mayor of Varanasi, Ram Gopal Mohale. Dr Qureshi recomitted himself and the state officials of Uttarakhand to ensuring that Hindu holy sites in the state would be preserved in an environmentally friendly way.

The platform of the Greening Pilgrimage meeting.
After the meeting, which took place at the site of the green camp by the sacred sangam where the Ganges and Yamuna rivers meet, Bhumi Project Manager Gopal Patel was encouraged by the commitments made and asked for more Hindu organisations to come forward, saying: "Together we can work towards preserving the original spirit and mood of pilgrimage, where every step is an offering to God."

The green effort attracted important media attention both within India and beyond. The Pujya Swami was interviewed for the prestigious US newspaper The Wall Street Journal. “We started with the concept that we should make this the green Kumbh Mela,” he was quoted as saying. “Hindus have always cared for the environment but people have started to forget because of population growth and lack of resources. But when they see their leaders and their gurus going in the green direction, they will follow.”

Pilgrims and animals share the litter-strewn banks of the sangam.


The Wall St Journal article

Coverage in Asian Image .

ARC press release about the Allahabad meeting

A Flickr set of photographs from the Kumbh Mela, 2013

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