March for Peace and WASH in Ladakh

The second day of the GIWA-UNICEF Worship for WASH (Sarva Dharma Swachhta Evam Sadbhavna Sankalp) Summit had the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance’s interfaith leaders and the Hon’ble Science & Technology Minister, Dr. Harsh Vardhanji visit the at the Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre to inaugurate a special Interfaith Peace Garden and ceremoniously perform the ground breaking of a toilet structure near the centre’s Meditation Hall, which previously lacked access to nearby sanitation facilities.

At the ground-breaking, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji said,“This toilet structure symbolizes the union of Meditation and Sanitation, which is the need of the hour. No longer can our worship and our prayers be only in our places of worship, it is time that the come out to the streets and reach out to the people. Our visit to Ladakh has truly been a historic beginning, a unique confluence of science and spirituality, technology and tradition and this sangam will expand the mission of Swachh Bharat to reach every corner of the nation, including often inaccessible regions such as Ladakh.”

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary General GIWA, emphasized the need for toilets for women and girls by saying, “Nearly 595 million people lack toilets in India. Millions of girls and women fall prey to violence, threat of wild animals and basic indignity on a daily basis due to open defecation. In India we are emphasizing education for the girl child. This is a wonderful initiative, but if we don’t simultaneously emphasize provision of proper toilet facilities, these same girls will drop out of school when they reach puberty. A tragically large percentage of girls’ education ends when they start menstruating due simply to the lack of hygienic, private toilet facilities where they can keep themselves clean.”

The interfaith visited various places of worship, including the Ladakh Buddhist Association Monastery, Dantun Sahib Gurudwara, the Moravian Church, Masjid Sharif, Imam Bara, Krishna Temple, where they met and interacted with local faith leaders and faith communities.

These was part of a beautiful March for Unity, WASH and Peace during the Worship for WASH GIWA- UNICEF two day Summit, where the faith leaders, besides inspiring hundreds of local stakeholders in large pledge event on the first day, also walked the streets of Leh-Ladakh on the next day taking this message of oneness and cleaniness to every corner of the district. It was truly a testament to the great commitment of GIWA’s faith leaders to bring about a sanitation revolution in India by engaging and inspiring people of all faiths through their faith leaders and faith communities.

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