Gandhi Jayanti: Join the Clean, Green and Serene Revolution

HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji (Pujya Swamiji), President of Parmarth Niketan, Co-Founder of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and Founder of Ganga Action Parivar, has for the past decade, inspired the Clean, Green and Serene Initiative, organizing several large scale clean-ups and greening activities on major holidays and festivals. He has always consistently encouraged making every holiday, every festival and every day a green one.

On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti it was no different; having just returned from His trip abroad, He led a team of Parmarth Rishikumars, staff and volunteers along with many other NGOs in collaboration with the Indian Railways – as one team with one theme- to clean up the Rishikesh Railway Station, Triveni Ghat and its localities.

The city of Rishikesh is increasingly becoming the hub of national and international tourism and is commonly known as the Yoga Capital of the world, but like the rest of the country it also lacks an efficient and effective solid waste system. The Rishikesh station is at the heart of the city and has been largely neglected with tons of waste and construction materials being dumped into its premises. The station had recently been adopted by the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and Ganga Action Parivar to clean, green and convert into a park.

During the clean-up, the Parmarth Rishikumars and volunteers were instructed and trained to carefully segregate the different types of trash biodegradable from non-biodegradable. Plans were also made to train workers of the municipality, as a longer-term effort, to effectively separate and dispose of all waste. The MLA of Rishikesh, Shri Premchandra Agarwalji, MLA of Yamkeshwar, Smt Vijaya Barathwal, Chairman of Rishikesh, Shri Deep Sharmaji, Rail Superintendent, Shri Gajendra Singhji, and DPO Northern Railway Muradabad, Shri RK Kaushikji were inspired to join in the cleaning efforts, along with several local organizations (detailed below). They also planted a beautiful Rudrakash sapling in the premises of the station.

Pujya Swamiji uplifted and inspired participants by saying, “Let us take Yoga off the mat and into the streets and stations of our villages and cities. It is time that peace and serenity are reflected everywhere and trash and pollution are no longer the norm. We all have to work together not to only sign documents and more resolutions, but rather to be an active part of the revolution. The time has come that we convert our trash for cash and shift our perspective of waste into wealth. It’s time that India’s population is not regarded as a liability and a burden but as an asset. This is why the world is turning to India’s population as a viable marketplace- a ‘Bazaar’ -but India can illustrate that it is not merely a ‘Bazaar’ but also a ‘Parivar,’ a family that welcomes and accepts all. An important and integral part of welcoming and caring for our family is ensuring that our homes and our surroundings are clean, green and serene.”

Pujya Swamiji lauded the Hon’ble Prime Minister’s initiative and remarkable leadership to put the issues of cleanliness, sanitation and hygiene at the forefront of the nation’s agenda.

During the divine Ganga Aarti ceremony the same message was shared with hundreds of pilgrims in which Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji explained, “The holy banks of Mother Ganga are revered and worshiped as a sacred pilgrimage but how can these same places of worship be strewn with trash. Tragically, everywhere you go you see trash and filth, along the roads and even in the temples. Recently on our trip to America, Pujya Swamiji was so glad to hear our Hon’ble Prime Minister in Madison Square Garden, in the heart of United States, speaking about Clean India and the need to move from Temples to Toilets. It has become so imperative, when we face challenges such as global warming and climate change, which affect all of humanity, to work together- as one family- to address these challenges together. During our meetings at the United Nations for Climate Change it was so inspiring to see over 400,000 people from all over the world come together to march for peace and pledge their commitment to preserve and protect our planet. It really illustrates that people from all over the world are with us in this revolution and that this shift is happening and we all have an important part to play.”

On the occasion Ms. Jodie Underhill, of Waste Warriors, was blessed by Pujya Swamiji for her great work for solid waste management in Dehradun and Dharmashala. Organizations such as Zero Waste and Clean Himalayas were also recognized and blessed for their contributions to this work and for being a model and an inspiration to others. Waste workers from the Nagar Palika were also blessed on the occasion and recognized for their vital contributions to these efforts. All of these organizations joined together with Ganga Action Parivar in the clean up today and also have joined hands for future Clean and Green programs here in Rishikesh and surrounding areas.

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