It was a solemn occasion where the Saints and people assembled offered floral tributes to an ages old Banyan tree. It was also 18 April, the World Heritage Day declared by the UNESCO. This is a grandfather tree, fondly called Puthariyal, that has stood witness to a bygone era of agrarian glory, environmental sanity. At the premises of the Lord Krishna temple at Aranmula, Kerala, the saffron clad Sages from various Ashrams also put a garland to the tree. Poet and activist Sugathakumari gave a pledge that everyone repeated, that each one shall pay any price to protect the heritage and nature of the land. Together they lighted the lamp for a new beginning where the symbiotic culture is trying to have a comeback.
It is a tree where the first harvest of paddy, Puthari, was bought by farmers and offered to the Lord. A share of the harvested paddy was also deposited at the temple which routinely fed the ascetics, poor and needy. It came handy also in times of crisis. The
Once with vast expanse of paddy fields, locally called Puncha, the agrarian ecosystem has since then faced ruin. And so did the value system and the ritual was an effort to say it loud, that the symbiotic cultures are crucial, in the mad rush to ‘develop’ people forgot what they were losing. This till Nature reacted, with drinking water shortages, unbearable heat and warming, loss of food base and general morbidity. Aranmula region once with an abundance of water is now facing hardships for drinking water, the perennial river Pampa, very crucial to the region and held in great esteem, is also a tragic scene now. With damming in the upper reaches, sand mining, deforestation and quarrying the river is an apology for its old self. It was when the whole ecosystem was on a precipice that the profit driven lobby came forward to fill all the wetlands and river tributaries of the area, pushing the survival systems to a break down.
The three day Upavasa Nama Sankeerthanam started with house to house visits by the Saints in the region, later organizing family get togethers and culminating on 18 April, which was also the World Heritage Day, in a prayer and day long fasting program at the temple premises. The day long fasting and prayers, Upavasa Nama Japam, was to kindle the spirit of eco-conservation and a pleading for honoring the eco-friendly native culture. It has been a historic phase in the immediate past of condemning the native beliefs and rituals that are intricately linked to ecological balance in the region after the colonial phase. The paradigm had components like preservation of wilderness in human habitations, called Sacred Groves, honoring important tree species, showing respect to life giving river and water bodies, honoring animals and plants. What has laed to enormous damage to the ecosystem and people.
Swami Prajnananda Theerthapadar, present Paramacharya of the Theerthapada Parampara and Head of the Theerthapadasramam, Vazhoor, inaugurated the event with the lighting of the lamp. Dharma cannot be defeated by money power, organizational power or political power, said the Swami. Mother Nature in Aranmula is facing an onslaught of illegal attacks, it is the vulpine lobbies of consumerism that are reaching out to the last oasis of health and that must not be permitted, said Poet Sugathakumari. The icon of nature lovers in Kerala Sugathakumari gave the Nature and Heritage Conservation Pledge. Swami Golokanandaji Maharaj, Head of the Sri Ramanandasram, Thiruvalla, chaired the meet. State Chief of the Chinmaya Mission Swami Viviktananda Saraswathi together with the other Saints and people garlanded the
More than a hundred senior Saints including Swami Brahmapadananda (Chenkottukonam), Swami