Parmarth Niketan, one of the largest ashrams in Rishikesh and one of the largest spiritual institutions in India hosted the esteemed delegates of the G-20 meeting of the Anti-Corruption Working Group for a special Ganga Aarti ceremony and dinner tonight. This momentous gathering witnessed the participation of 200 delegates from all 20 of the G-20 countries as well as representatives from across the nation and the world. The event at Parmarth Niketan was the opening to the delegates’ three days of meetings in Uttarakhand. They had the special opportunity to witness and participate in Parmarth’s world-famous Ganga Aarti, immersing themselves in the rich cultural heritage and awe-inspiring landscape of Dev Bhoomi, the land of the Divine, in the lap of the Himalayas and on the holy banks of Mother Ganga.
Under the visionary leadership of Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji, these esteemed delegates from G20 nations came together to convene, address and discuss critical issues of finance and anti-corruption, while being exposed to India’s unparalleled natural beauty, timeless culture, and profound spirituality. Honourable Chief Minister of Uttarakhand Shri Pushkar Singh Dhamiji specifically emphasised the significance of cultural programs at the meeting venues to “showcase Uttarakhand’s beauty, culture, and specialties to the world.”
With the leadership and support of the State Government and the blessings of HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan, Parmarth hosted the first major event in the delegation’s agenda, setting the stage for the important work ahead.
When the delegates arrived at Parmarth Niketan, they were welcomed with traditional tilak and shawls and then proceeded to the Ganga ghat where the programme began with the traditional lighting of a lamp. The delegates rose together and touched one another’s arms as the lamp was lit, so that ceremonially everyone was part of the lighting. As explained by Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, “as we light the lamp we pray to the Divine to bless us with the light of wisdom so we may, together, forge a path of peace, sustainability, and oneness.”
After the lamp lighting and sacred music, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji and Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji shared messages of inspiration and wisdom with the delegates on the deep meaning of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and how our work and our lives can truly embody and manifest this profound teaching.
Prior to rising for the sacred aarti, Sadhviji led them all in a short meditation to deeply feel and experience the presence and power of Maa Ganga.
The delegates then rose together and joined in a soul-stirring Aarti ceremony, graced also by the presence of Hon’ble ministers of Uttarakhand cabinet, Shri Ajay Bhattji, Minister of Defence and Tourism, Shri Dhan Singh Rawatji, Minister of Education and Shri Subodh Uniyalji, Minister of Agriculture,as well as Smt. Renu Bishtji, MLA from Yamkeshwar Assembly.
After the Aarti everyone took a pledge with their arms raised high in the sky! They pledged together to work for a green, sustainable, peaceful planet with an awareness that we are truly One Family living on One Earth with One Future.
The esteemed G20 dignitaries were presented with sacred rudraksh saplings, serving as a powerful and inspiring reminder to do whatever they can to mitigate climate change and preserve nature.
Following the Ganga Aarti ceremony, the delegates enjoyed a beautiful, sattvik meal based around the indigenous millets of Uttarakhand. In celebration of the Year of Millets and the healthy, nutrient-rich indigenous grains of Dev Bhoomi, they were treated to a delicious meal while enjoying the sacred flow of Maa Ganga.
Said HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, President of Parmarth Niketan and Founder of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, Divine Shakti Foundation and Ganga Action Parivar: “India is not merely a piece of land. It is a land of peace. As we gather for the G20 meetings we must work together to bring peace to this entire planet. We have worshipped the Divine Creator for so long. Now the time has come to protect, preserve and serve the divine Creation. That is what the mantra of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam teaches us. There are two ways of looking at the world – either as a Parivar (a family) or as a bazaar (a marketplace). When you see the world as a parivar, then you share with each other. In a Parivar there is cooperation and love. In a bazaar, a marketplace, there is competition and corruption instead of cooperation. If we want to move from corruption to cooperation we must shift our view from seeing our world as a bazaar to seeing our world as a Parivar. We must move from a ‘greed’ culture to a ‘green’ culture, from a ‘use and throw’ culture to a ‘use and grow’ culture!”
Said Pujya Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji, Secretary-General, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, President, Divine Shakti Foundation: “It’s so beautiful that the G20 delegates have come to Uttarakhand, the land which is truly “simply Heaven” and that they had the opportunity to perform the sacred Ganga aarti here at Parmarth Niketan. Today science is telling us the same thing that our rishis and sages who sat in these Himalayas told us thousands of years ago: health in our bodies, minds, communities and nations begins with meditation and yoga which show us the true oneness of all of creation. The teachings and truths of Indian spiritual culture are a dharma, not a dogma. They are a way of life that is accessible, applicable and beneficial for all.”
The Ganga Aarti at Parmarth Niketan Ashram was initiated more than 30 years ago by HH Param Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji Maharaj with the aim of fostering love and devotion for Mother Ganga, inspiring people to keep Her banks clean, and putting an end to open defecation along Her sacred shores. Rain or shine, every evening, the Ganga Aarti at Parmarth Niketan attracts devotees from all walks of life, from every race, religion, colour, creed, and culture. Each night, the Aarti concludes with collective pledges to take positive action on various social issues, such as avoiding single-use plastics, planting trees, protecting our sacred rivers and working to abate climate change.
It is hoped that this powerful experience, unfolding on the holy banks of Mother Ganga in the lap of the Himalayas, will uplift and inspire the delegates in their important responsibilities within the G20 framework. By offering them a genuine taste of India’s universal spiritual heritage through this collective devotional experience, it brings them into direct contact with the G20 theme of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,’ signifying that the world is one family.