United Nations World Water Day was celebrated in a colourful, thoughtful and festive ceremony at Parmarth Niketan Ashram by participants from around the world. The celebrations, organized by the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and Ganga Action Parivar, were dedicated to the theme of saving energy to save water.
Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, founder of Ganga Action Parivar, said “We are always taking from our water sources, such as the Ganga, and as a result, they are becoming increasingly dryer and tragically polluted to the point where some of our water bodies can no longer support life. The celebrations today send a message that now is the time to conserve water, to keep our rivers clean, and to give back to nature. For all of our lives, water has nourished us as a mother nourishes a child. Now, just as an adult child would care for his elderly parents, we must care for the rivers, lakes and other aquifers that have given us so much.”
At the onset of the celebrations, a special water blessing ceremony took place in which participants offered the waters of the sacred river Ganga to a large globe in a collective prayer that everyone, everywhere, should have access to sufficient, safe and life-giving water.
A grand procession was next held in which women took the lead, carrying decorative pots of water atop their heads as they journeyed to the Ganga River. On the banks of Ganga the water was offered to the sound of Vedic hymns for peace.
Sadhvi Bhagawatiji, President of the Divine Shakti Foundation, said “Yesterday we celebrated World Forest Day and today we celebrate World Water Day. The oxygen provided by our forests and the fresh water provided by our water bodies are the two most crucial components of life on Earth. Without oxygen or water, there can be no life. Just as we sacrifice our time, our energy, and our strength in the protection of our countries and in the protection of our own lives, it is now time to use that same energy, strength and commitment to protect the life of our planet through protection of our water bodies and forests. Thus, today let us all raise our hands in a pledge to protect and preserve forests, water and energy to bring about true world peace.” She led all the participants in a pledge to use their time, energy, expertise and experience to help protect the water bodies and the forests wherever they live, in all countries across the globe.
The theme for this year’s United Nations’ World Water Day, “Water and Energy,” was declared by the United Nations out of concern for the enormous strain that conventional energy production places on our world’s diminishing water supplies.
According to the United Nations, energy production accounts for some 15% of water extracted worldwide. Unless changes are made, this is expected to rise to 55% by 2050, increasing the risks of conflicts between using water for energy versus conserving water to sustain life.
During the event today, bio-toilets were showcased by the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance as important answers to our world’s increasing water and energy needs. Technologies, such as the Bio-Digester system, convert all human waste into clear water for use in agriculture. They also produce bio-gas, which can be used to power homes, communities and even automobiles.
Also showcased at the event were bio-sand water filtration systems, which can be built by community self-help groups and women’s empowerment cooperatives using natural materials including sand and gravel, yet can remove 99% of biological impurities from drinking water. The Global Interfaith WASH Alliance will be supplying such systems, in cooperation with the government to all the schools in Uttarakhand. In so doing, the health of approximately four million school children and their families will be safeguarded from deadly water-borne diseases.
Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji said “Over the centuries, society has developed according to the constructs of Man Against Nature. We must now enter an age in which we look to nature for its elegant solutions to our many problems. In other words, Humanity With Nature. From dissolving our waste, to creating energy, to protecting our health, nature offers effective, efficient and sustainable answers. We must simply employ these answers, and in so doing we can ensure an abundant, safe and green future for all. The time has come to employ innovative methods to address our world’s pressing environmental challenges.”