WASHINGTON DC. The Hindu Bhumi Project’s Green Temple campaign was launched this past weekend at the White House, Washington DC.
The program, which is an international initiative to encourage Hindu temples around the world to be greener, stems from the Hindu Nine Year Plan on the Environment.
The launch took place during a briefing at the White House, organised by the Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC). In attendance were Hindu leaders from North America, members of the US government, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Ten Hindu temples have been identified in America, which will act as pilot projects. The temples will look at issues concerning greening of puja (worship), energy sourcing, and the development of temple gardens. In twelve months time, the target is for one hundred temples from across the world to join the programme. HASC will be an important strategic partner in order to bring on board many temples from America.
“We are very happy to partner with the Bhumi Project for this important initiative.” said Anju Bhargava, Founder of HASC. “Our briefing at the White House was to encourage young Hindus to establish Seva [service] Centers across America where they can contribute to society through community action and with other faith groups. Our work with the Bhumi Project will be a significant step towards that.”
“Hindu temples were traditionally the standard-bearers for good practice in the community. By making our places of worship earth-friendly, we can send a clear message that care for the environment is central to Hindu life,” said Gopal Patel, Project Manager for the Bhumi Project, who was leading the launch at the White House.
“The Preamble of the UN Charter talks about ‘We the Peoples of the United Nations” said Jose Dallo, of the United Nations Development Programme. “Sometimes the United Nations has been concentrating on the Governments of the World. We recognised that achieving the international agreed goals will require development partnerships which reflect that civil society has an important role to play. Initiatives like the Hindu Green Temple Initiative are very much about the people, and what the people want to achieve.”
“This is part of a worldwide initiative by faiths to ask the question: “If our place of worship were a green place of worship what would it be like?” We are excited that the Hindu community is helping lead this movement,” said Victoria Finlay, communication director of the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) which is supporting the Hindu Plan and Bhumi Project.
“This is truly a historic moment; the first time this has happened in the White House,” President Obama’s Pastor-in-Chief and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Joshua Dubois said of the Hindu White House briefing.
The Hindu Nine-Year-Plan and Bhumi Project were created by the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, in conjunction with ARC, and they were both launched in November 2009 at Windsor Castle, UK, in the presence of Prince Philip and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
“Hindu scriptures contain many references to Mother Earth, Bhumi, and how she should be cared for and respected. By using these teachings in modern-day contexts, we can help Hindu culture become more accessible.” said Shaunaka Rishi Das, Director of the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies.
The Bhumi Project Green Temple initiative asks Hindu temples to consider the following areas:
1. The development of temple gardens
2. Greening or worship practices
3. Increasing recycling initiatives
4. Greening festivals and gatherings
5. Encouraging green options for travel to and from temples
The Bhumi Project is an international Hindu response to climate change launched at Windsor Castle in November 2009 with HRH Prince Philip and HE Ban Ki-moon. Using Hindu perspectives, teachings, and ancient culture, they work with temples and organisations to help encourage the Hindu community take a more active role in the care and protection of the planet.
The Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies is a Recognised Independent Centre of the University of Oxford. The principal aim of the Centre is the study of Hindu culture, religion, languages, literature, philosophy, history, arts and society, in all periods and in all parts of the world. All Hindu traditions are included.
The Alliance of Religions and Conservation is a secular body that helps the major religions of the world to develop their own environmental programmes, based on their own core teachings, beliefs and practices. They help the religions link with key environmental organisations in creating powerful alliances between faith communities and conservation groups. ARC was founded in 1995 by HRH Prince Philip. They now work with 11 major faiths through the key traditions within each faith.
Hindu American Seva Charities is a progressive American organization advancing seva (community service), interfaith collaboration, pluralism, social justice and sustainable civic engagement to ignite grassroots social change and build healthy communities.
For more information from the Bhumi Project contact Gopal Patel, Project Manager:
+44 7958 807 506
For more information from the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies contact Shaunaka Rishi Das, Director of the OCHS:
+44 1865 304 303
For more information from ARC, please contact Victoria Finlay:
+44 1225 758 004
For more information on the Bhumi Project, visit www.bhumiproject.org
For more information on the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, visit www.ochs.org.uk
For more information on the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC), visit www.arcworld.org
For more information on the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), visit www.undp.org