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PRESS RELEASE: Green Hindu temple initiative launched at White House

August 1, 2011:

The Hindu Bhumi Project Green Temple campaign was launched this weekend at the White House, Washington DC.

It was part of a full day Hindu event at the White House organised by Hindu American Seva Charities, celebrating a number of exciting Hindu initiatives, including greening temples all over the United States. Joshua Dubois, President Obama's Pastor-in Chief attended, along with Hindu leaders from North America, members of the US government, ARC's communications director Victoria Finlay and Jose Dallo from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Bhumi Project has emerged from the nine year plan that ARC helped the international Hindu community create in 2009, ready for the Windsor celebration. It includes: introducing a Hindu benchmark for a range of products and services including energy; endorsing ethically sourced food and ahimsa milk; advocating sustainable lifestyles.

The Green Temples programme, which is an international initiative to encourage Hindu temples around the world to more ecological, stems from the Hindu Nine Year Plan on the Environment.

Anju Bhargava (L) Founder of Hindu American Seva Charities and Gopal Patel (R) Project Manager for the Bhumi Project, launch the Bhumi Green Temple initiative at the White House on Friday 29th July, 2011.
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. Link here for the Bhumi Project Press Release.

EDITORS NOTES

The Bhumi Project Green Temple initiative asks Hindu temples to consider the following areas:

The development of temple gardens
Greening or worship practices
Increasing recycling initiatives
Greening festivals and gatherings
Encouraging green options for travel to and from temples Further information on the Bhumi Green Temple initiative can be found here.

The Bhumi Project

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.

CONTACT DETAILS

Gopal Patel, Project Manager:

gopal@bhumiproject.org

+1 781-530-0127

+44 7958 807 506



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