Prayagraj: On the auspicious day of Maghi Poornima, a special full moon Snan was further illuminated by the presence of the Honorable Governor of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh and former Chief Minister of Gujarat, Anandiben Patel, who joined H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President of Parmarth Niketan (Rishikesh) and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary-General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, in taking a dip at the sacred Sangam. They were accompanied by leaders of the Peace Pledge Project, who joined from the Netherlands and other European countries, Dutch water experts, and the tribal leaders from South, Central, and North America who led the Kiva Kumbh Mela at the Parmarth Niketan Kumbh Camp. In the water this diverse group, which represented more than 42 countries from across the globe, performed an extraordinary puja for the cleanliness of our sacred rivers and together they pledged to work for clean water all over the world.
The Honorable Governor Anandiben Patel also visited the Toilet Café on the grounds of the Parmarth Niketan Kumbh camp. The Toilet Café is an innovative concept that unites the idea of sanitation and meditation that originated in Sabaramati Ashram in Gujarat. The Honorable Governor was familiar with the Toilet Café in Gujarat and was pleased to learn that Pujya Swamiji decided to bring it to the Kumbh Mela. Through Pujya Swamiji’s vision and inspiration, Toilet Cafes will also be installed in Rishikesh and other places in India to help people understand that meditation and sanitation go hand and hand, and that toilets ought to be kept as clean as our kitchens and ought to be a topic of conversation.
The presence of the Peace Pledge Project leaders also brought a strong message that our definition of peace must expand to include bringing an end to the tragic deaths due to lack of clean drinking water. And so as these esteemed leaders came together as one, they pledged for peace but also for peace that includes access to access to safe and clean water.
Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati said, “Many faith traditions stress that the whole world is one family. Today, our brothers and sisters across the globe are suffering and perishing due to hunger, thirst and preventable illnesses, due in large part to the lack of clean water, sanitation and hygiene. Together, we bring a new definition of “peace,” which includes helping to enable access to safe and sufficient water, sanitation, hygiene for all.”
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati shared, “We are gathered here in the name of peace, oneness and compassion. But it is not merely enough to pray for peace, we must pledge and provide the basics necessary for peace. Clean water, access to sanitation and hygiene is the strong foundation upon which peace must be built. This is the message that leaders from all walks of life here together give for India and the world.”
#Maghipurnima at #kumbhmela2019 . My second full moon on banks of the sacred sangam. As #kumbh comes to a close and we head soon to #Rishikesh for our #InternationalYogaFestival , I hold the fullness of the moon & the fullness of the Self deeply in my heart. #TuesdayThoughts pic.twitter.com/Odewfafvc9
— Sadhvi Bhagawati (@SadhviBhagawati) February 19, 2019
The Peace Pledge Project brings people from around the world together and strives to put the values of loving-kindness and compassion into action to help us realize our humanity. It is an essential birthright for all humankind to live in peace, have clean water, healthy food, shelter, education, and economic equality. Brigette van Baren, Director Inner Sense and one of the Peace Pledge Project leaders said, “It is our moral right to protect the planet that has been entrusted to us. We honor these rights and commit to sow the seeds of loving-kindness and compassion in all manifestations.”
Some of the dignitaries included: His Eminence Tai Situpa Rinpoche, an emanation of the future Buddha, Maitreya; Pir Shabda Kahn, Spiritual Director of the Sufi Ruhaniat International; Devi Mohan, Director and Senior Teacher of Himalayan School of Traditional Yoga; water experts from the Netherlands Dolk Zantinge and Eric Laakakke; Srila Bhakti Aloka Paramadwaiti Swami, Founder and Spiritual Master of Vrindavan Institute for Vaisnava Culture and Studies (Vrinda Mission); Heriberto Villasenor, Director of Roots of the Earth; Abuela Tonalmitl of the Tolteca people of Mexico and leader of the Moon Dance Ceremony; Tata Gorilla, an elder from the Tolteca tribe in Mexico; Cheryl Angel, a Sioux Dakota elder and leader in the “Standing Rock” movement in the United States.