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Varanasi
Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Saving Mother Earth

It was only natural that Prime Minister Narendra Modi of Bharat launched the One Sun, One World, One Grid initiative at the First Assembly of International Solar Alliance in the UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. This energy interconnectedness is what is needed to help the poorer nations of the world that are trapped with high energy bills.

The timing of the COP26 in the Hindu month of Kartik is most auspicious.  This augurs well for the success of the summit on climate change while those before have failed to implement set goals. Two major festivals fall within the month of Kartik- Diwali and Kartik Snaan. Both festivals, like all festivals in Hindu Dharma, are eco-friendly and emphasize the positive link of Hindu Dharma with environment.

Sustainabledevelopment is the challenge that is facing mankind. To consume man must; however, his attitude needs to be such that he does not destroy the planet. For example, the cow sustains life by giving milk from which a wide variety of products are prepared. The dung orgobar is also used as an eco-friendly fertilizer to sustain plant life and increase food production. It is therefore important that the cow be sustained so that humankind can eat and live well.

As Hindus across the world celebrate Diwali, the Festival of Lights, they must take pride in the fact that their ancestors understood the importance of eco-friendliness. The deeyas, the fuel and the wicks are all eco-friendly. The deeyas, made from clay, are returned to the earth. The fuel or oil that lights the deeyas is derived from plants and not fossils, hence limited or no emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. The wicks are made from cotton and not polyester which is petroleum based.

For Diwali there is a long period of fasting or abstinence from consuming animal meats. On the day of the celebration only vegetarian meals are served. This dietary practice is certainly healthy for the environment and should have been integral to any discussion on climate change.

Eating a vegetarian diet reduces animal-waste runoff and groundwater pollution. It also cuts down on greenhouse gases and precious land resources that are used for commercial farming. A vegetarian diet is a death pardon to animal that challenge the doctrine that preaches man’s dominance over animals and the environment.

In the Caribbean, the Hindu community continues to serve their meals in leaves during pujas, weddings and festivals. In Trinidad meals are served in ‘suhaare’ leaves -6 to 8 inches in width and 12 to 20 inches in length.  The leaf is spacious to accommodate 8 to 12 dishes served. In Guyana there is the ‘puree’ leaf, a family of the lotus.

In recent time a manufactured plastic leaf is being used in pujas and weddings. Now that the environmental consciousness is on the rise, Hindus would have to return to the suhaare and puree leaves. However, there are a few challenges with relation to availability. It means thatHindus with entrepreneurialmind sets would now have the challenge to farm the suharee and puree leaves so that they can be readily available to consumers.

Another challenge is the use of plastic bags to package sweets and styrofoam boxes for take-away meals. These are not major challenges as the brown paper bags and paper boxes are readily available.

Karticsnaan iscelebrated mainly in beaches in Trinidad andTobago. Devotees with their pandits travel in their vehicles to the beaches where pujasare performed and offering of milk, fruits and mohanbhog are made to the Mother Ganga.  This is followed by the serving of meals.

Over the years, devotees,now more conscious of the environment,take along garbage bags to store their waste. These bags are then taken to a garbage collection point.

KarticSnaan festival emphasizes man’s dependence on water and the environment. In the past these festivals were celebrated without much bother of its significance. However, with the growing consciousness of saving the environment, Hindus and non-Hindus alike are now waking up to the significance of this festival.

It is my fervent hope that in future COPs, all delegates subscribe to a vegetarian diet. This would demonstrate some compassion to the animals who are supposed to have equal rights with man over the environment. It may also be necessary that animal rights activists are given the privilege to speak as official representatives of the animals of the planet.

-by Dool Hanomansingh

(Featured image source: quora)

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