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ARC Home > Projects > Green pilgrimage network :
Women pilgrims

Hindu women and pilgrimage

This page has not been updated since June 2014.

ARC and our sister organisation, the Bhumi project, have worked with Hindu pilgrimage and school groups in Braj, India, as well as a young Hindu writer in the UK, to create a delightful script about women who go on pilgrimage and discover a great deal, both about themselves and about looking after nature.

Walking the Hidden Forest, written and illustrated by Jahnavi Harrison, is available in storybook form (please note this is more than 10MB) and also as a play script . It was first written in English, and by March 2013 translated into Hindi. It has already been trialled by a drama group of schoolchildren in the Food for Life school in Vrindavan, a key destination in the ancient Braj pilgrimage tradition.

It will be launched at the 2013 Kumbh Mela - which is expected to be the largest meeting of human beings in world history, with more than 80 million people expected to attend.

Please contact ARC or the Bhumi Project if you would like to perform this play. It is designed for use by Hindu drama groups and schools, but would also be appropriate for any Religious Education drama, or any school group where the class wants to learn more, in an entertaining way, about Hinduism and pilgrimage, with some lovely lessons of ecology included.

The script and story will be available in final form, in both English and Hindi, by the end of January 2013.


It was a perfectly normal night in Delhi. The sun had long since set, and the houses and apartment blocks in the privileged parts of the city were now full of heat and light as people settled down for the evening - eating dinner, watching soap operas and sweating over homework. Whining dogs quietened, finding nooks to sleep in for the night. Raju, the tubby night watchman who guarded the Chander family’s apartment complex, was slumped over his desk wearing a pair of dark glasses, snoring as usual. It was on that perfectly normal night that a perfectly abnormal sound rang out from the screen doors of the top floor.

The howl sounded like a chorus of dying cats and could be heard throughout the whole neighbourhood. The dogs began to bark and Raju leapt awake, snorting and rubbing his eyes. Upstairs all was in chaos. The sound was coming from Naniji, beloved grandma of the family. She was rolling around on the floor, clutching her chest and shouting:

“Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Help! HELP! Save me! Hai bhagwan! HELLLLLP! Shri Krishna sharanam mama! Ohhhhhhhhh! Save me!”

“Naniji!” shouted Mayuri, the oldest daughter. “Naniji, we’re here, don’t worry.” Naniji either didn’t hear, or didn’t care.

“Oh. Help me. I’m dying. I’m DYING!” she cried, looking dramatically up at the sky and beating her heart with her tiny fist.

“Mayu, quickly, go get Naniji’s pills and some water,” ordered their mother, Jaya. “Shanti, bed. Right now.”

“Shanti!” said her mother angrily, “I thought I told you to—”

Suddenly there was a loud knock at the door.

“Now what?” Jaya got up to answer it and strode out of the room muttering under her breath. As soon as she was gone, Naniji’s eyes snapped open.

“Girls,” she hissed, grabbing for them and drawing them closer. “I need to go home.”

“What do you mean Naniji? You are home,” insisted Mayuri.

“No, I mean my real home. I mean Braj. I can’t bear it any more, I am so old now, and I don’t belong in this crazy city.”

“You want to leave us?” asked Shanti, her eyes welling up again.

“Of course I’m not leaving you. We’re all going on a yatra together,” she pronounced. “If I don’t go, I will die, and if I am going to die,” she paused dramatically, “I must go. Understand?”

“But Ma said you just ate too many—”

“Never mind what Ma says, I have decided. We are going to leave on Monday together. Don’t worry it will be fun.”

“But Naniji,” protested Mayuri, “I have my audition next weekend. I have to practise. There’s a talent scout coming from Mumbai and everything.”....


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Related information

Hindu ecology
An outilne of Hindu teachings on the environment
October 31, 2012:
ARC works with Hindu leaders on Green Pilgrimage Network in India
Following an exploratory meeting in Hyderabad in October ARC has been invited to a second gathering of representatives from various Hindu pilgrim sites across India with a view to making them more environmentally friendly.
December 27, 2012:
Green Pilgrimage Network meeting in Rishikesh
Last month the Bhumi Project and ARC hosted a unique meeting of pilgrim towns, cities and sites in India as part of the Green Pilgrimage Network's India chapter.