As a precursor and curtain-raiser to the recent Kashiyatra at Indian Institute of Technology BHU in Varanasi, a team of volunteers from the Ganga Action Parivar, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and Parmarth Niketan, led by Ganga Nandini, who serves as the Director of Programme Implementation, Integration and Communication, GIWA, hosted an interactive session with members of the Kashiyatra 2020 committee and other students to describe and detail the ongoing initiatives and service projects taking place to clean up the River Ganga, educate and inspire faith communities on climate action and so many other multifaceted initiatives as inspired and led by HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, on the auspicious occasion of National Youth Day.
The day began with a Run for Ganga, in which some 100 students came together in the early hours admist heavy fog, which couldn’t dampen their spirit, to show their commitment to the cause. They then had an hour-long interactive session in which they learned about the programmes, projects and pilot plans being initiated by GIWA, GAP and Parmarth. In the afternoon, they gathered together for a beautiful clean up along the Assi Ghat in collaboration with an international organisation by the name of Renew Oceans, in which dozens of bags of small plastic wrappers and remnants from tourists visiting the popular Ghat were collected. The day ended with Aarti on the Dasasumedh Ghat where Pujya Swamiji had been a pivotal driving force in 1999-2000 to start this tradition in a grand way which today finds its place in Incredible India.
A number of the amazing students were deeply moved by the video and team-member presentations, especially in terms of the Menstrual Hygiene Management and Ganga preservation programs, and – in addition to pledging to conserve, preserve and protect all of Creation – committed to participating in several GIWA outreach and training programs planned for 2020.
Joining in on this unique Yatra were Swami Sevananda Saraswatiji and Swami Shantanand Saraswatiji who shared their stories and experiences along the banks of Mother Ganga to encourage the students. Also accompanying the group were Saket Agarwal, Shivani and Kishor Bhatt.
It was an unique opportunity to interact with youth of one of the nation’s premier and one of the oldest educational institutions. Many students of engineering and IT would go into become the leaders of tomorrow and we look forward to working with them in the coming years.