Patrick is sick today with the cough that has found a home in the frigid night air here on the banks of the river, so I will write about our day with 5000 school children yesterday. They came marching in to gather on the steps of Sangam Ghat in straight lines of uniformed students, carrying signs with slogans for the campaign to clean up the Ganges River, chanting in rhythm to their marching bands. For Patrick and those of us who love nature so passionately, it was a deeply moving day. Environmental preservation is even less of a hot topic here in India as in our part of the world, and certainly, it is rarely associated with spiritual conviction. But, as in the Pagan tradition, the Hindu culture holds certain places in nature to be sacred, such as this confluence of the three rivers that is the site of Kumbha Mela. As part of his Ganga Rights Campaign, Puyja Swami Saraswati elected to follow Gandhi’s maxim: If we are to have true change, we must begin with the children.
Patrick and I started at the foot of the steps and worked our way through the huge,noisy crowd, shaking hands with the shy, beautiful girls who giggled as they asked our names, to the young men who insisted that we come immediately to speak with their fellow classmates. In the beginning, they just wanted to have their picture taken with us, but we created enough of a stir that by the end , they were asking for our autographs! Patrick gave each of them the same individual attention that he would grant an important visitor, offering them his blessings and encouraging them to join his sense of how important it is to protect nature.
When we finally collapsed after speaking to as many as we could, Patrick reflected that if somehow he had made the message of the Ganges campaign just a little more memorable for them, it was part of his life’s work. It is a joy to see his Wiccan sense of Mother Earth as the Goddess in physical form join forces with the ancient Vedic tradition that has brought millions of pilgrims to gather here peacefully in their love of the Divine to result in a very practical campaign to preserve the Ganges for this new generation.
To support this work in a personal way, you can go to www.Gangarights.org and sign the petition.