If you’ve been following my blog, you know how I feel about Varanasi.
This is my third visit to India’s jewel on the Ganga, specifically to learn yoga at Om Shanti Yoga Niketan. Before landing, I had it in my mind to offer a seva (service) to the community here. Seva is an important aspect in dharmic religions where service to another is an indirect service to the Divine. It’s a proven fact, giving feels good, not just to the recipient but to the giver as well! And sometimes, if you add all the right ingredients, it can provide a community with something they desperately needed, or with knowledge that will change their lives forever.
With the help of Rajuji, my teacher, I’ve had the honor of meeting some very special individuals around Varanasi.
Though my asana practice has taken a back burner to my karma yoga mission, and my nostrils are full of black soot from jetting about town on rickshaws all day, though my phone ear is ringing and my smile-muscles are kaputz, I can go to bed feeling like a million bucks today.
Samaj Seva: Kashi Ganga Cleanup
On November 20th, at 9am, tourists, citizens and local organization members will gather together at Dasaswamedh Ghat to clean Ma Ganga and the surrounding streets and alleyways. In addition to cleaning the city, our group will be passing around a petition for the government to better regulate the import of already-banned plastic bags in the city. By raising awareness about the littering problem here, and placing bins along the walkways and ghats, we hope to inspire long-term sustainable change in one of India’s most treasured cities.
It Takes a Village
I’m overwhelmed by the encouragement, media support, and cooperation by local luminaries. After several meetings, it was decided the best hook was to position the seva event around foreign concern – that’s why I feature so prominently in the press release. Whatever gets the right people’s attention!
So far, the International Shiv Shakti Yoga Association has agreed to teach a yoga class to our volunteers. The Gandiva Hindi Daily, Varanasi’s leading evening newspaper, is assisting us with flier printouts to promote the day amongst tourists. Jago Banaras & Sunbeam Schools Varanasi have generously offered 100 cadets, brooms and dustbins. The Sahara Network is already advertising the day on their television program, and an impromptu visit from The Lions Club in another meeting resulted in their support as well.
And as a sweet ‘lil cherry on top, Soul Creation Productions is planning a documentary on the effort, in the context of India’s role in the global green movement.
On top of all this, I’m now writing and narrating a script with the production company, teaching students at a Sunbeam school about the environmental and health concerns surrounding litter, as well as donating my time as a writing workshop leader. Creativity, service, passion and determination collide!
I was in good company all day, and finished the evening with a short but sweet asana class. Exactly what I needed after all the tea and chat!
Wish us luck at the press conference tomorrow . . . can’t say I’ve ever done one of those before (at least not on the other side of the camera)!