ENVIRONMENTAL WATCH: March for Himalayas – Buddhist walk for green cause – from Darjeeling to Gangtok the message of preservation persists ?!!
FROM THE TELEGRAPH CORRESPONDENT
Kalimpong, Dec. 2: Around 300 Buddhists began a 23-day-long padayatra from a monastery in Darjeeling today to spread a message on clean and green Himalayas.
Attired in traditional maroon gowns, nuns and monks of the Drukpa lineage chanted Buddhist hymns as they, and their followers, walked in single file through the streets of the hill town. The march, led by the head of the lineage Gyalwang Drukpa, will end in Gangtok on December 24.
During the walk, the participants will hike for about six to seven hours every day. Their first halt will be at Jorethang in Sikkim later today.
“We will be visiting different parts of Sikkim during the padayatra and spread the message of a green earth. Our lineage under the leadership of His Holiness, Gyalwang Drukpa, works towards highlighting environmental issues,” said Jigme Karuna Yangchen, a Drukpa nun.
During the march, which began from the Druk Sangag Choling Monastery in Dali, the devotees will collect plastic items found along the road and dispose them of in a proper manner.
“I want the yatras to take place every year. People are still not aware of the hazards of environmental degradation. However, they will slowly come to know about them,” said Gyalwang Drukpa.
According to Yangchen, the head of the lineage had undertaken a similar pilgrimage called “walking on the world’s rooftop” last year. The march had begun from Manali in Himachal Pradesh and ended in Ladakh.
“Seven hundred nuns and monks had covered 400km on foot last year to clean the Himalayas and save the environment. They had collected over 1 lakh plastic bottles during the walk,” Yangchen said.
According to a follower of the Drukpa lineage from America, the highlight of the yatras is the active participation of nuns.
“Traditionally, women are not in the forefront in Buddhism. But the Drukpa lineage led by His Holiness encourages nuns. They practise kung-fu in their monastery in Nepal, which is a sight to watch,” he said.