Allahabad, Jan 27: More than a thousand people - from across India and around the world -- marched together to celebrate India's Republic Day on the banks of the Ganga at the Kumbh Mela yesterday, as part of an environmental parade to call for India's independence from pollution and to pay homage to the war heroes, who have faithfully served India's past.
Led by His Holiness Puyja Swami Chidanand Saraswati, founder of Ganga Action Parivar and president of Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh, participants from of all castes, creeds and cultures came together to call for an Indian "Clean Revolution."
The parade-goers, hailing from more than 54 countries, as well as students from the Northeast states, waved their national flags, colourful banners and slogan-signs calling for all to keep Mother India and Mother Ganga pollution-free.
Said Puyja Swami Chidanand Saraswati, "We are gathering to send a strong message that together, we can clean up the Ganga, just as She cleanses us. Today, we celebrate our freedom of sovereignty, but we are not truly free until our country is liberated of pollution. We must continue to work and to strive for the freedom to live in a country blessed with clean air, water and land. Ganga's rights are our rights! We worked and fought long and hard for our own independence. Now we must work for Ganga's rights!"
Everyday, nearly 3 billion litres of sewage and chemical waste are poured into the Ganga. This dumping, combined with the obstruction and diversion of its water has resulted in water shortages, toxic drinking water, and the virtual disappearance of segments of the river.
The event also paid respect to the war heroes, who have protected the land, culture and people of India. In doing so, it will send a message of inspiration for all to serve in the footsteps of these martyrs and veterans in order to preserve our environment.
Said Puyja Swami Chidanand Saraswati, "To those who fought for India's Independence, we honour their memory by dedicating ourselves to cleaning up India, so that future generations will not only appreciate our sovereignty, but also our beautiful country and Mother Ganga, our National Heritage."
The procession concluded with a sacred and divine Ganga Aarti at the main Sangam Nose ghat.
Ganga Action Parivar brings together networks and partnerships of the world's preeminent researchers, environmentalists, engineers, religious and business leaders, as well as members of the general public.
In partnership with Allahabad's NGOs, schools, institutions and the environment ministry, Ganga Action Parivar is taking up the "Green Kumbh Initiative."
This is a first of its kind program, designed to beautify the grounds of Kumbh and its environs, while protecting the health and well-being of festival attendees.
In addition, this program will spread awareness and education about the importance of being "green", thus informing and motivating festivals-goers from all over the world to become stewards of the environment around them. To learn more, please visit www.gangaaction.org