On the occasion of Ganga Dusshera, a glorious day of celebration of the day in which Goddess Ganga came onto this Earth in the form of a sacred river to liberate the souls of the sons of King Sagara (and therefore all of us….), we had a beautiful Ganga Dusshera puja with the chanting of stotras, prayers and hymns for Mother Ganga who gives and gives and gives with no hesitation, no discrimination, no vacation and no expectation! During the aarti, Pujya Swamiji and Sadhvi Bhagawatiji gave inspiring messages of how, as we worship Mother Ganga and sign Her glories, we should also take Ganga’s messages into our own lives, and we too should continue to flow, flow and flow, regardless of the hurdles or obstacles, regardless of what turns or sharp banks our lives encounter, regardless of whether people worship/revere and love us or not. Ganga just keeps flowing with her divine flow, and so should we….
Also, on this joyous occasion, we prayed and paid homage to all those who lost their lives in last year’s tragic floods of Uttarakhand where the rushing waters of Mother Ganga rose to heights unseen in over 100 years, at the very time of Ganga Dusshera. We remembered the tragic flooding and subsequent landslides swept away homes, businesses, whole villages, bridges and road in which tens of thousands of people lost their lives either in the floods themselves or by being subsequently stranded for days in the mountains without shelter, food, medical aid or water.
In this remembrance, we also remember the message that Mother Ganga and Mother Nature taught us during the tragedy. As the Himalayas get deforested, as the mountains are blasted with dynamite to make room for wider roads, we reap the consequences of fragile mountains and top soil that is no longer rooted to the ground. Hence, when the rains come, with no trees or rooted soil to hold the water, the mountain sides run into roads and villages, and our precious top soil gets washed away into the rivers.
On Ganga’s birthday last year, She gave us an ultimatum:
“Care for me, care for my mountains, my trees and my tributaries and I will bring you life and liberation. Deforest my mountainsides, pollute the air such that the warmth melts the glaciers, dam and divert me, and you will reap the consequences.” This is why in honour of this important lesson, under the banner of Project Hope, Pujya Swamiji is leading, guiding and inspiring Ganga Action Parivar, Divine Shakti Foundation and Global Interfaith WASH Alliance to continue projects for sustainable rehabilitation and reconstruction in the affected regions.
Some of these projects include:
- Kedarnath Memorial Katha: in honor of those who lost their lives in last year’s floods
- Sustainable Livelihoods: from handicrafts to organic farming in order to empower and reignite the spirit of entrepreneurship in the hearts and minds of the Himalayan people, especially the youth. Three livelihoods centers — at Triyuginarayan, Guptakashi and Rudraprayag — will be opened in the first phase.
- Kedarnath Smriti Van: International Memorial Gardens- Planting thousands of indigenous trees as a symbol of the resilient spirit of the innocent lives lost. Just as the trees grow and thrive so to do their spirits remind us to heed the lessons of Mother Nature and grow in harmony with the very soil that sustains our roots and our lives.
- A New Beginning and Divine Union: sponsorship of sacred marriage ceremonies for the widows who lost their husbands at a very young age.
- School Rehabilitation and Reconstruction: Plans are already underway for two schools in Uttarakashi and Guptakashi as well as to incorporate green technologies and programmes into every school in Uttarakhand so that children are proud of their traditional heritage, equipped with the basic necessities and green values to lead their future as green ambassadors of change.
- Biosand Filter and Clean Water For All: providing every gram panchayat and school with clean water to drink.
- Mid-Day Fruit Program: planting fruit trees in every school so children are nourished and nurtured into strong and thriving adults.
- Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for All
To learn more about our efforts to bring relief and rehabilitation to those affected by the Uttarakhand floods, please visit www.projecthope-india.org. Revered saints, experts, media and all stakeholders continue to be brought together by Pujya Swamiji’s divine vision and leadership. Let us take Mother Ganga’s message to heart and change our ways so that Mother Nature, Mother Ganga and all our brothers and sisters upon Her banks and around the world may live safe, healthy and nurtured lives.