Renowned faith leaders of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) inaugurated the two-day Assam Sanitation Conference in Khanapara Field, Guwahati with the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Shri Sarbananda Sonowallji and Hon’ble Minister of State Drinking Water & Sanitation Shri Ramesh Jigajinagiji along with many other ministers, secretaries and eminent representatives of UNICEF India. The GIWA India delegation was led by it’s Founder HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji – Munijiji and included prominent and revered interfaith leaders including HH Jagadguru Shankaracharya Swami Divyanand Teerthji, HH Maulana Mahmood Ahmed Madaniji, HH Venerable Lama Lobzangji, HH Acharya Dr. Lokesh Muniji, HH Rev Roger Gaikwadji and many others (please find the full list of faith leaders below).
The event was designed to engage and inspire gram panchayat heads, local faith leaders and stakeholders in the efforts to make Assam completely open defecation free by and/or before October 2017 and to support the Swachh Assam, Swachh Bharat Mission, India.
After the great success and impact of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance Summits in Rishikesh, Uttarakhand, Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir and Patna, Bihar, the state of Assam had cordially invited GIWA to host a Sarva Dharma Swachhta Evam Sadbhavana Sankalp (Interfaith Pledge for Harmony and Cleanliness) in Assam.
The event began with a beautiful lamp lighting ceremony and water blessing ceremony, in which GIWA’s interfaith leaders joined by the Hon’ble Chief Minister and other dignitaries, offered sacred water onto the globe as a symbol that people all around the world should have access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene. GIWA’s Interfaith leaders also blessed the Hon’ble Chief Minister with a sacred tree sapling as a symbol of his green, dynamic and dedicated leadership.
The highlight of this historic event was a mass Swachhta Pledge led by the Hon’ble Chief Minister, HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji and GIWA’s Interfaith Leaders as well as a Swachh Assam declaration and oath to inspire the thousands of village heads (sarpanchs of gram pranchayats) to take this mission forward with full commitment and conviction.
Said HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Founder/Chair, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance India, “Assam will reach the heights of the asman (sky)! I am confident that the Swachh Assam pledge to achieve complete open defecation state will be achieved sooner than the target date. This is why GIWA’s interfaith leaders have come together to emphasize that total sanitation should be our meditation. No longer can we neglect high infant and maternal mortality rates to go on due largely to poor water, sanitation and hygiene. Our presence here today is a powerful message of oneness and our commitment to this vital cause and our support to your mission.”
Said Hon’ble Chief Minister of Assam, “While a person may have to go through the cycle of birth and death, a cause of truth is immortal. Let this cause of Swachh Assam be such an immortal and vital cause. Today, our conviction is strengthened by the presence of India’s revered interfaith leaders showing us that we are not alone, even the faiths and even all forms of the divine and the Creator also love cleanliness. I am grateful to Pujya Swamiji and GIWA’s faith leaders for telling us that today nothing can stop Assam from progressing or growing to truly touch the asman (sky).”
Said Maulana Mahmood Madaniji, Secretary-General, JamiatUlama-i-Hind, “I am so glad to be here with you and to be with Pujya Swamiji as part of his GIWA delegation of faith leaders urging you that cleanliness inside must be matched with cleanliness outside, as the world is but a reflection of what we want and work for it to be. Let us pledge and take actions to make a Swachh Assam, moving towards a Swachh Bharat.”
Said Ven Lama Lobzangji, Secretary General, International Buddhist Confederation, President, Asoka Mission, India “Good hygiene is very important for good health and India needs better hygiene.”
Jain Leader Acharya Lokesh Muni shared that ahimsa (non-violence) and sanitation must be seen as going hand-in-hand. “Unclean choices are causing the deaths of countless children every day. This suffering must end. It is up to all of us to be the change.”
The following is a list of GIWA and UNICEF dignitaries present for the inaugural ceremony:
1. Shankaracharya Swami Divyanand Teerthji, Bhanpura Peeth
2. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Founder/Chairman, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) India, President, Parmarth Niketan and Founder, Ganga Action Parivar
3. Mahmood A. Madaniji, Secretary-General, Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind
4. Acharya Lokesh Muniji, President, Ahimsa Vishwa Bharti
5. Ven Lama Lobzangji, Secretary General, International Buddhist Confederation, President, Asoka Mission, India
6. Rev. Dr. Roger Gaikwadji, General Secretary, National Council of Churches in India
7. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Secretary- General, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, President, Divine Shakti Foundation
8. Sufi Shah Peer Mushahid uz zaman khan Chishtiji, Founder and President of International Islamic Sufi Foundation
9. Sadhvi Kalpanaji, Madhya Pradesh
10. Sankar Kumar Sanyalji, President of Harijan Sevak Sangh (HSS)
11. Giani Sant Singh, Head Priest Guru Sri Guru Singh Saheb, Guwahati
12. Mufti Nasihur Rahmanji, Principal Al Jamiatul Islamia Banat, Madrassa, Mangaldai, Darrang, Assam
13. Dr Tushar Rane, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Assam
14. Nicolas Osbert, Chief of WASH, UNICEF India
15. Mr James Gitau, Deputy Representative Operations, UNICEF India
16. Swamini Adityananda Saraswatiji, Diretor, Programmes, Policy and Development, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance