India’s President Ram Nath Kovind went to the Kumbh Mela in Prayagraj, where he visited Parmarth Niketan, Ganga Action Parivar & Global Interfaith WASH Alliance eco-friendly camp, where he inaugurated the Gandhian Resurgence Summit. The theme of the event was “Gandhi for Now, Gandhi for Youth, and Gandhi for All.”
The Summit is a celebration in honor of the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, organized by Parmarth Niketan, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance and the Harijan Sevak Sangh, India’s oldest Gandhian organization founded by Gandhi in 1932, a press release from organizers said.
“The auspiciousness of these events at the Kumbh Mela 2019 after Makar Sankranti and after the first shaji snan serve to highlight the timelessness of Gandhiji’s teachings and his message for not only the tens of millions of pilgrims visiting the Kumbh, but also for all of India and all of the world, watching this event,” organizers said.
They believe that at this time of the Swachh Kumbh and Swachh Bharat programs, the necessity for a resurgence in Gandhian thought is especially important as Gandhiji had emphasized the crucial importance of sanitation and hygiene.
Swami Chidanand Saraswati, president of Parmarth Niketan and co-founder of Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, in his speech at the event said, “Gandhiji said, ‘Sanitation is more important than independence.’ Today is a historic day in which for the first time since Hon’ble Shri Rajendra Prasad, our President after Independence, a President of India is coming to the Kumbh Mela! From the banks of the Sangam today there is a message going – the Sangam ka Sandesh. It is a message of unity, of peace, of cleanliness, environmental protection and upliftment for all. In fact, today, we have a triveni sangam of our Hon’ble President, Hon’ble Prime Minister and Hon’ble Chief Minister working for a clean India, green India, healthy, united, peaceful and prosperous India together!”
President Kovind performed the final offering (purnahuti) in the world peace yagna (fire ceremony), at the event and joined others on the dais, including the Governor of Uttar Pradesh Ram Naik, Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji, Acharya M.M. Swami Avdheshanand Giri Maharaj, Mahant Narendra Giri Maharaj, Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, secretary-general, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, and Dr. Shankar Sanyal, president, Harijan Sevak Sangh.
“I feel so honored that after the first president of India, Shri Rajendra Prasadji, I have the opportunity to come to the Kumbh Mela. The Kumbh is the largest gathering of humanity in the world! The Kumbh gives the vision and hope for a world of oneness. It is a magnet that attracts and pulls people from around the world. It is a magnet of faith attracting not only human pilgrims but also birds from Siberia come just at this special and auspicious time,” President Kovind said in his speech.
According to organizers, “Patriotism was palpable as rousing speeches led the crowd towards collectively pledging for taking Mahatma Gandhi’s vision for a clean India into mission mode,” the press release said. “The Swachh Bharat Mission, which was launched on Gandhi Jayanti 2014, completes this year, making sanitation the need of the day if our nation is to achieve its historic targets of toilets and sanitation for all,” organizers maintained.
Yogi Adityanath spoke about the vision and work of the “Green Kumbh Clean Kumbh” and said that this year there is more water in the sangam than any year since Independence. Additionally, 1,22,500 ecofriendly toilets have been built and provided to the pilgrims, he said. Gandhi was committed to cleanliness and committed to people’s movements, Adityanath said, which made the ground level work of the Swachh Bharat Mission “really the greatest shraddhanjali that can be given to Gandhiji,” the press release quoted him saying.
Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati highlighted the historic significance of the President’s visit, saying, “He is a leader who models Gandhian principles of simplicity, integrity, nobility of thought AND action. Gandhiji said ‘without action we are not going anywhere’ and our Hon’ble President is a man of great action and great direction. His life and work are a sangam (confluence) of dedication to culture, nature and future.”
Dr. Sanyal thanked the President, Governor and Chief Minister for coming and thanked Swami Chidananda Saraswati for guiding and leading the event. He that there more than 350 members of the Harijan Sevak Sangh from seventeen states of India attended this event.
President Kovind also visited an exhibition of paintings dedicated to Gandhi and his wife Kasturba.