November 11, 2011
Located in the scenic Western Ghats, surrounded by a dense jungle, the famous temple of Sabrimala in Kerala draws millions of pilgrims every year. Devotees make the arduous trek up the mountain to offer prayers to Lord Ayyappan, usually after undergoing a period of strict spiritual vows.
The temple is open to devotees, mostly male, only during certain times of the year.
Over the past years trash accumulated in the temple premises and the surroundings, prompting the Government of Kerala to recently invite volunteers from the Mata Amritanandamayi Math to help clean the holy place and restore its sanctity and purity.
The invitation came nearly a year after Chancellor Amma initiated the Amala Bharatam Campaign (ABC) to clean all of Mother India.
“We are happy to note that nearly 1000 students from all our campuses came forward whole-heartedly to participate in this noble effort,” shared Br. Sudeep, Director, Amritapuri Campus.
Alongside the students, were another 3500 volunteers, including staff and faculty members, ashram residents and devotees, who made up the cleaning crew.
An additional 300 volunteers represented other organizations such as the Satya Sai Seva Trust, Akhila Bharathiya Ayyappa Seva Sanghom and National Service Scheme (NSS).
“We estimate that we dug up and cleared about 20 years of accumulated waste from Sabarimala and Pampa,” shared the participating students.
“It was hard work but we definitely enjoyed ourselves!”
All volunteers were provided gloves and vests. Waste was cleared in thousands of bags over three days from places such as Koprakkalam, Malikappuram, Nadappanthal, Panditthavalam, Bhasmakkulam at the Sabarimala Sannidhanam. When possible, it was sorted first, to retrieve anything of value that could be recycled. It was finally burnt in incinerators especially set up for the occasion.
All arrangements for food, transportation and accommodation for volunteers were made by the MA Math.
On the final day, girls helped clean the surroundings of the sacred Pampa river that flows at the base of the mountain.
Also, on the final day, the Chief Minister of Kerala, Oommen Chandy, inaugurated the Government’s Zero Waste Project for Sabarimala.
Aswin traveled with his classmates at the Amrita School of Arts and Sciences in Mysore to participate. “It was a wonderful opportunity for us to be here and serve,” he said.
“It was a rare opportunity for us to work alongside students from other campuses and be a part of this cleaning campaign,” stated Bhargav Chava, who came with his classmates from the Amrita School of Engineering, Bengaluru.
Some students gained rare insights from the cleaning experience.
“I participated in an ABC clean-up drive for the very first time,” shared Deepak D., third-year B.Tech. (ECE) student at the Amritapuri campus.
“I have now decided to take up a project to make working computers and mobile phones from used and discarded electronic parts,” stated the eco-friendly engineer-to-be.