Soon, 1.5 million people will be journeying to the Rishikesh/Haridwar region for the renowned month-long Kanwar Yatra. Water plays a focal role during this foot journey through sacred towns and Himalayan foothills, as well as along the sacred banks of the Ganga River. During this time, an observer will witness tens of thousands of people every day carrying water from their home areas and the River Ganga to the sacred Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, where they will lovingly offer it to God.

To keep the environment and people healthy during this ancient and profound event, GIWA’s Swachh Bharat Yatra provided a mass awareness program for community members at the Triveni Ghat recently.

This program was proceeded with and will be followed by community education and mobilization events.  It included lively interactions with GIWA’s social workers and community activators, who were riding aboard GIWA’s WASH on Wheels truck. Together, they were motivated to take action against open defecation, sewers that empty into our drinking water and other forms of pollution that defile the River Ganga and countless other water bodies every year and make countless children sick.

Coming together were workers, volunteers and students from GIWA, Ganga Action Parivar, Parmarth Niketan, Freedom Group Mayakund and the World Toilet College. The discussions, screening of motivational videos and chanting of Swachh Slogans inspired the pilgrims to take mass vows on keeping the River Ganga clean. They also pledged to mobilize others towards ensuring clean Kanwad and Char Dham Yatras by keeping their rivers and towns clean by stopping the practice of open defecation, and other polluting activities. They also agreed to plant trees on all festivals and special occasions in order to ensure a greener future for all.

Spearheading the occasion were GIWA Director Swamini Adityananda Saraswatiji, GIWA Coordinator Dayanidhi Dasji, GIWA Social Worker, Samuel Herbert, GIWA Educator, Vishal Bhatt, GIWA Community Organizer, RC Shaw, as well as community organizers, Chandra Kanta Joshi, Ajay Das, Arvind Kumar and Ravi Singh Bisht from Kale-Ki-Dhal and Freedom Group Mayakund.