Grappling With Garbage At Sabarimala
“Amma always says that protecting nature is as important as protecting one’s own mother. This is the main reason why the Math has undertaken this cleaning drive,” stated Swami Jnanamritananda Puri, delivering a benedictory address.
Swamiji was speaking at a special function organized to mark the inauguration of the three-day cleaning drive of Sabarimala and Pampa.
One of the world’s largest pilgrimage centers, Sabarimala is situated in the Western Ghats amidst dense forests. The sacred river Pampa flows at its base.
Students, faculty and staff members of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham joined ashramites and devotees in cleaning this historic, holy land during November 2-4, 2012. This initiative was part of the Amala Bharatham Campaign, instituted in response to the request made by the Kerala State Government.
Over 3200 volunteers participated in the unique mission. Over 2200 volunteers served at the Sannidhanam on the top of the mountain, where the ancient temple is located, and another 1000 were deployed at the base, to clean the river and its surroundings.
“Throwing and littering waste materials in and around Lord Ayyappa’s holy placed is like throwing waste directly on the face of Lord Ayyappa. The concerned authorities should try to make the devotees aware of this,” added Swami Jnanamritananda Puri, using strong words to drive home, some essential points.
The Devaswom Minister, Shri. V.S. Sivakumar expressed appreciation for Amrita’s participation in the project.
“The government will provide KSRTC buses for transportation of all volunteers, next year on,” he said.
“All students who volunteered for this drive, will be awarded certificates by the Government of Kerala. This initiative by the Mata Amritanandamayi Math is exceptional,” he commented.
Others in attendance at the inaugural function included Former Union Minister O. Rajagopal; Member of Parliament, Anto Antony; MLA Raju Abraham; Pathanamthitta District Collector, V.N. Jithendran and Devaswom Commissioner, V. Vasu.
Amrita University was represented by its Vice-Chancellor, Dr. P. Venkat Rangan.
Last year, the waste accumulated from many decades, was cleared for the first time by more than 5000 volunteers including students, faculty and staff members of Amrita University as well as the ashram residents and devotees.
This year also, cleaning at the temple premises was undertaken by men. Volunteers at each spot, wearing gloves and vests, gathered the waste to segregate it into recyclable and non-recyclable items. The segregated waste was finally handed over to the Sabarimala Ecology Department for its proper disposal.
Both men and women cleaned the banks of the river and the riverbed. Cleaning was also extended to the Pampa KSRTC bus stand, the Ganapathy Temple and the parking lot.
As in the cleaning drive last year, all arrangements for transportation and refreshments were made by the Mata Amritanandamayi Math. The Travancore Devaswom Board undertook arrangements for providing food and accommodation for the volunteers.
Some volunteers also joined in from Satya Sai Seva Samiti, Akhila Bharatha Ayyappa Seva Sangham, Vana Samrakshana Samitis, National Service Scheme Unit of Pathanamthitta Catholicate College, Nehru Yuva Kendra and Sabarimala Sanitation Society.
Students from all five campuses of Amrita University, who participated, unanimously expressed their happiness at being part of the laudable mission.
“This was an amazing experience. We are proud that we could play a part in restoring the scenic beauty of Sabarimala and also in restoring the balance of a diverse ecosystem that Sabarimala is part of,” stated first-year students of BA (Mass Communication), who came from the Coimbatore campus.
“Being a part of this campaign has made me realize the great need to protect our Mother Nature. This was a rare opportunity we got. Thanks to Chancellor Amma and the Amala Bharatam Campaign team,” commented Sreeraj, third-year student of BCom in Amrita’s Mysore campus, who accompanied several classmates to the location of the cleaning drive.
“We are very happy that with our work, we could transform Sabarimala into a clean place. We strongly believe that doing selfless service is even more effective than praying,” underscored K. Vishnu Kumar Reddy, third-year student of BTech (Electronics and Communication Engineering) at Amrita’s Bengaluru campus.
“It was really shocking to see the amount of plastic dumped in the Pampa River and also that lying on its banks. We did our best to remove every piece of garbage. Also working together with friends and teachers is altogether a different
experience,” stated Gayathri Vijayakumar, first-year student of B.Sc. (Biotechnology), who came from the Amritapuri campus.
“This clean up drive was a great adventure for us all. It was an unforgettable experience. Getting the chance to clean up a holy land such as Sabarimala is indeed a great privilege,” together opined Sreejith Lal, Nithin Sajeev and Joby P.Lal, all first-year students of MSW (Master of Social Work) from the Amritapuri campus.
The cleaning mission accomplished the students went back to their respective campuses on Sunday, November 5. As they left, they had the immense satisfaction of knowing that they had helped restore the harmonic synergy of the sacred land in Kerala.
Gearing Up For A Noble Mission
The Cleaning Campaign at Sabarimala
The Hindu – Arrangements for Pilgrimage
The Hindu – Committed to Keeping Sabarimala Clean: Minister
The Hindu – 3,200 Volunteers Take Part in Cleanliness Campaign
A Historic Clean-Up Drive at Sabarimala
Hindustan Times – Sabarimala: 35,000 Bags of Garbage Collected
NDTV – Sabarimala Clean-up: 35,000 Bags of Garbage Collected
Daily News & Analysis – Sabarimala Clean-up: 35,000 Garbage Bags Collected
daijiworld.com – Sabarimala Clean-up: 35,000 Bags of Garbage Collected
November 5, 2012