On the auspicious occasion of the full moon, for the first time ever at the Kumbh Mela, an international group of musicians from the Middle East, tribal leaders from more than 42 countries and spiritual leaders from across Asia traveled to the Parmarth Niketan camp at the Kumbh Mela to make a sacred pledge to for peace and to protect the water bodies of the world.
Led by H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji – Muniji, President of Parmarth Niketan, and Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, the group performed a river clean-up as they spread along the beach on their way to the waters of the holy Sangam where they took a holy dip into the sacred waters of the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati Rivers. The streams of the indigenous leaders of all of these nations merged together with the streams of the saints, sages, sadhus and devotees of India into one beautiful cohesive, whole, united in peace, in oneness and in togetherness. Like the holy river, which flows and expands along its journey to the ocean, those taking their snan expanded their definition of peace to include a world beyond violence, beyond terror, beyond illusive borders and boundaries, and beyond the tragedy of people dying due to lack of clean drinking water.
Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati spoke to the assembled group, saying “Today, the Kumbh Mela has become of international significance, witnessing the coming together- the Sangam- of people across the world. This is the message from the Sangam where all the cultures come together- as one family. India is not a piece of land but India is the land of peace. India has never attacked another nation but has attracted the world. There is no wall in the heart of India, it is a huge heart that equates the whole world. India does not merely believe in tolerance but in acceptance. This is the example that the world needs to move into the next century but we must also understand that we are facing a water crisis and if there is no water there will be no peace. Only with safe and sufficient water will we have peace. India must pledge to set the example in water conservation and preservation from the world’s largest water festival- the Kumbh Mela.”
Through their magical concert on the banks of the Sangam the Gil Ron Shama Ensemble, a musical group with members that come from Israel, Palestine, Yemen, Iran, and Turkey, wove threads of peace, unity, oneness, and reverence for our water bodies into their songs. Through sound and words they transformed turmoil to tranquility in all who listened to their powerful music. A highlight was the special version of the Om Jai Jagadish Hare Aarti during which the band sang alongside Pujya Swamiji.
Inspired by the Aarti during a previous trip to India, the band wrote an Aarti with the Om Jai Jagadish Hare tune. Words were based on the teachings of King Solomon and sung in the Hebrew language. While Pujya Swamiji sang in Hindi, the band responded with their version in Hebrew. It was a sandesh, a message of the Sangam to the world of how to come together as one for peace and environmental protection for all the world’s water.
“The United Nations estimates that by 2030 India will have only half of the drinking water that it needs and by 2040 the same will be true for the rest of the world, which will have only half the clean drinking water it needs. There will be many, many times more water refugees than war refugees, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati said.
She continued, “Our definition of peace must expand to include an end to violence, an end to terror, and also an end to tragic deaths due to lack of clean drinking water. And so as we come together as one, we pledge for peace but also for peace that includes access to access to safe and clean water.”
People from India, Spain, Brazil, Paraguay, China, Mexico, Belgium, America, Colombia, Bolivia, the Netherlands, Peru, Argentina, Germany, Australia, Italy, Norway, Chile, Germany, Tibet, Bhutan, Russia, Israel and many other countries joined together to make a pledge to work together to bring tranquility to the turmoil of the world. To use music, to use sound, to use the similarities in our cultures to unite people, to bring people together as one across borders of continents, countries, cities, colors, and creeds.
Members of the Gil Ron Shama Ensemble included Amir Shazar, Gil Ron Shama, Idan Armani, Itai Eliasi, Kamal Sliman, Maayan Linik, Momin Sesler, and Yaur Tzabevy. Tribal nations from Central, South, and North America that were represented included the Wirranrika tribe from Mexico, Arahuaco and Uwa from Colombia, Vaisnava and Mapuche from Chile, Guarani from Paraguay, Quechua from Peru, Dakota from the United States, and Tolteca from Mexico.