by Surya Upadhya
Dr Kusum Vyas ji brought the ornate pots known as ‘Green Kumbhs Kalash’ to the first Nepali Temple(Pasupatinath Mandir) in UK at Swingate Lane, SE16 2DAC, Plumstead on 2 June 2013 at 1200 hours as part of a unique and colourful pilgrimage symbolising their commitment to protecting the environment. Distinguished International Visiting Professor of Universitas Mahendradatta, Bali, Indonesia and founder of the Living Planet Foundation and Green Yatra Action Network (GYAN) Dr Vyas spoke on various programmes and projects launched at her initiative on climate change.
After the initial presentation Dr Vyas then gave a presentation on her project to the gathered audience comprises of youths, ladies and gents of the Nepali Community in Plumstead. Dr Vyas said that the aim of GYAN is to establish the Green Kumbh Yatra as a powerful focal point around which people can demonstrate their commitment to save the environment and building a clean, healthy, diverse world for generations to come. We Hindus worship and love animals and nature so there is that connection in Hinduism, she said, adding that some of our animals are considered to be the incarnation of God. She also shed light on her recent visit to Kathmandu, India and Israel among others. The Bagmati cleaning campaign near Pashupatinath temple, Nepal carried out by the Gayatri Pariwar from India recently in Kathmandu are examples of such an initiative.
Dr Vyas highlighted the importance of climate change in Hinduism and said such issues were part of everyday life in our religion. She also shed light on Ram Setu Bridge connecting between India and Sri Lanka constructed thousands of years ago during the time of Lord Ram and efforts made to preserve despite the Indian government’s efforts to dismantle it. She has been an instrumental voice in bringing international attention to the plight of the ecologically fragile and religiously significant Ram Setu in the Gulf of Mannar.
GYAN is said to have been ‘nurtured to give roots and wings to a global initiative focused on the environmental, physical, social, cultural and economic revitalization of communities in the Hindu world.’ Green Kumbh Yatra is “a pilgrimage to emphasize the profound connection between the collective wisdom and resources of the faith traditions and their role in conserving biodiversity.” After the 12 year Kumbh Mela of Allahabad the Yatra has continued to other parts of India before travelling across continents and countries and ultimately arrives in South Korea for COP 12 in 2014. The Yatra had already been made to Nepal, Israel and Europe.
A graduate of Nairobi and Texas A&M University Vyas was born in Nairobi and grew up in Kampala. GYAN is focused on religion-based environmentalism that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) describes as “the world’s largest civil society movement on climate change”.
Kusum has worked selflessly with several religious & civic leaders since 2004 to promote the Green Kumbh concept. She successfully launched the Green Kumbh Yatra in collaboration with United Nations Convention of Biodiversity (CBD) at COP11. Green Kumbh Yatra has no modern precedent. Kusum, who is a Hindu, believes that inside each of us lies a wealth of power to learn how to live on Earth in ways that honor the web of life and future generations.
She has been an instrumental voice in bringing international attention to the plight of the ecologically fragile and religiously significant Ram Setu in the Gulf of Mannar.
GYAN is focused on religion-based environmentalism that the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) describes as “the world’s largest civil society movement on climate change.” Dr Vyas and Surya Upadhya, chairman of Nepalese Hindu Forum and UK Co-ordinator of GYAN jointly handed over the Green Kumbh (Kalash) to Chairman of Pasupati Mandir, Mr Homnath Sharma and General Secretary Fatta Thapa.
Earlier Mr Upadhya spoke on various activities of GYAN and introduced Dr Vyas in the promotion of Hinduism and preservation of climate change. Mandirl Secretary Mr Thapa, welcoming Dr Vyas, shed light on the activities of the temple. A number of Nepali participants from different parts of the UK also attended the programme.
She has attended programmes at Tirupati Balaji temple in Dudley, Sanatan Hindu temple in Wembley , Hindu Temples in Leicester and Manchester and at a programme organised by CODEC-UK a Wembley based Nepali organisation.
Pasupatinath Mandir is the first Nepali Mandir in UK. The Nepali and Indian community in Rushmoor is also jointly coming together and working on prospects to build a Mandir in Rushmoor in the years ahead.