Vanvasis & Dharma Gurus Pledge for Sanitation for All
Parmarth Niketan’s camp in the Kumbh Mela was awash in colour and song today as members of Vanvasi groups from Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur and Tripura converged together with Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji and Bhajan Samrat, Anup Jalotaji, in a historic show of unity. The representatives were resplendent in shimmering ethnic dress as they held signs, waved flags and chanted messages of unity and peace. Later, all raised their hands and voices to demand an end to needless childhood deaths by ensuring everyone, everywhere has access to clean and healthy water and sanitation.
Every 20 seconds, a child dies due to poor sanitation. India leads the world in the deaths of children under the age of five, primarily for this reason.
Said HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh and Co- Chair/Co-Founder of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, “Today we are all here together, with all of our vanvasi sisters and brothers from so many different areas of India. We may be from different states and have different cultures, but fundamentally and essentially we are all Indian and of Indian Culture. In that spirit of Oneness, we dance together, sing together, and come together for our beautiful Mother India in which false differences and discord are erased. We pledge together today to embrace sanitation, hygiene and cleanliness so that everybody, everywhere may have healthy, happy lives.”
Some 600 million people in India have no toilets, while many others don’t use them. For this reason, the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, under the leadership of HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, has been unifying faith leaders and citizens groups for the Swachhta Kranti Movement: India’s Clean Revolution.
Said renowned singer, Bhajan Samrat, Shri Anup Jalota, “All hearts are deeply touched as we witness the richness of Indian cultures come together with the call for fellowship and a Swachh Bharat on all lips. This land is our Mother and we must all come together, in all of our villages, to keep Her clean and healthy. It is clear that sanitation is the call of the day, across all cultures and all religions. Now, we must all rise for this great and noble cause so that India may shine.”
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Secretary General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, Parmarth Niketan, Rishikesh emphasized the richness of Indian culture. “Abroad we have a culture of give and take, first we take and then we give. Here in India it is a culture of give, give and give. Now, it is time to give to our Mother India and Mother Earth. Our world is like a house with many rooms. The mother may be in the kitchen, and the children may be in the living room, but they are still one family, under the same roof. In the same way, we are all one family, living under the same sky. Today, I am so glad to join together with our vanvasi sisters and brothers and to sing, dance, and pledge together for a Swachh Bharat and toilets for all.”
At the conclusion of the event, a beautiful Water Blessing Ceremony was held in which people from all participating groups and backgrounds lovingly poured water over a globe with prayers that everyone, everywhere may have access to clean and healthy water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). Afterwards, all danced in cheerful unity to the tune of the Swachh Bharat Anthem with Padma Shri and Famous Folk Singer Smt Malini Awasthiji, who enthusiastically joined for the special occasion. Smt Maliniji and Pujya Swamiji led everyone in a grand pledge to end open defecation, build and use toilets and protect our sacred sources of fresh water from pollution and contamination.
Shri Atul Jog, Sahsangathan Mantri of Akhil Bharatiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram, Shri Prakash Kale Kshetra Sangathan Mantri of Akhil Bharatiya Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram and Madan Mohan Mall of Assam visited the Parmarth Niketan camp with the event that took place.
Said HH Pujya Swami Chidanad Saraswatiji, “The world is one family, and our house must be kept clean for all to be serene. From now on, let sanitation be our meditation until toilets become universally used across India. Let Mother India‟s soil smell sweet once again. Let Her children live in health, and let all realize peaceful lives of unity and harmony, as was demonstrated today.”