Green Kumbh Yatra comes to Jerusalem

Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem. Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur on left
Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem. Deputy Mayor Naomi Tsur on left

JERUSALEM: A unique environmental pilgrimage, ‘Green Kumbh Yatra’, travelling across various countries to promote the importance of environment and biodiversity conservation, was received in Jerusalem on April 22.

The Green Kumbh Yatra is the brainchild of Kusum Vyas, founder of GYAN and Living Planet Foundation of Houston, USA. Vyas was in Jerusalem to attend The First International Jerusalem Symposium from April 21 to April 25.

The Symposium was timed to celebrate Earth Day, a history making day for the Green Kumbh Yatra. During a ceremony at the Old City’s Jaffa Gate with the Tower of David and the Old City walls serving as a backdrop, Vyas presented the Green Kumbh to Hon. Nir Barkat, Mayor of Jerusalem.

Earlier, Vyas took part in the ribbon-cutting ceremony to launch the Cool Globes Exhibition with the aim to inspire a call to environmental action.

On April 24, when residents of Jerusalem came together to welcome the return of the Common Swift to their nesting sites in the Western Wall, Vyas was invited to offer Hindu prayer at the ceremony. In a brief statement followed by a Vedic prayer, Vyas compared the arrival of the swifts to the huge flocks of winged Siberian birds that she saw during her visit to the Maha Kumbh Mela at the confluence of the sacred Rivers Ganges and Yamuna.

The Green Kumbh Yatra has no modern precedent. It was formally launched on October 14, 2012 at COP11-Eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity at Hyderabad in collaboration with the Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity and others.

Since its launch, it has travelled through India, Kenya, Nepal and Israel. It is expected to arrive in the UK where Green Kumbh activities are planned for several cities. After leaving the UK, the Yatra will continue its journey across various countries to ultimately arrive in South Korea for COP12 in 2014.
While the Green Kumbh is rooted in the Hindu religion, Vyas feels that spiritual leaders and those associated with any religious organization should come forward to help solve the practical problems of climate change and biodiversity loss.

“Our main aim is to mobilize the masses at grassroots and raise public and political awareness by highlighting the profound connection between the collective wisdom and resources of the faith traditions and their role in biodiversity conservation and sustainable use” says Vyas.

Naomi Tsur, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem and organizer of the Symposium, says, “Faith Communities of the world actually constitute the largest civil society movement on planet Earth. And that is a tremendous force for impact and change for good”.

India Post News Service