Women Heroes for a Swachh Bharat Converge for World Water Day

Rishikesh—A unique World Water Day celebration at Parmarth Niketan today brought together and honoured Sanitation Ambassadors and Heroes from nearby villages and urban slums who have worked towards making their local communities and water bodies free from Open Defecation and pollution.

The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA), under the inspiration and guidance of its co-founder HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji (who is also President of Parmarth Niketan), has been training people in slums and villages on how to lead their own communities towards a Swachhta Kranti or Clean Revolution. GIWA has been doing so through its array of courses, offered through its World Toilet College, as well as outreach, through its WASH on Wheels programme and Women for WASH initiative.

The World Water Day celebration, held on the banks of the River Ganga, included colourful video presentations, musical recitals and dramatic performances as well as a mass pledge to work to ensure universal access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene. HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji handed the Ambassadors symbolic Sanitation Keys (Swachhta Chabiyan) to highlight the message that the tools for creating a clean and healthy society lie in the hands of the people.

Speaking on the occasion, HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji – Muniji said, “Today is World Water Day, and we are so happy that just a little earlier, this week, our Ganga and Yamuna Rivers were given the same status as a person by the High Court of Uttarakhand. This is truly historic, and will surely enable our beautiful rivers to be better protected. This means, now more than ever, we must come together and stay together until everyone, everywhere, uses toilets. And we must roll up our sleeves to free our precious rivers—and all water bodies—from the terrible bane of human waste that mar their banks and destroy the beauty of the world around us.”

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Secretary-General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance said: “Water is Life — life for our bodies, life for our planet and life for all of creation with whom we share this beautiful planet. However, today tragically in India water is becoming a source of death and disease rather than a source of life, due in large part to rampant open defecation. That is why on World Water Day we are celebrating the work being done to build toilets and empower local communities in sanitation and hygiene.”

Pujya Swamiji also emphasized, “Now is the time for all of us to become Swachhta Krantikaris (Clean Revolutionaries), so that, together, we can realize a vision for Mother India and Mother Ganga”.

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