Hindu Leader Urges Temples to Go Green

rajan zed photo
I find it quite heartening to see that religious leaders are increasingly seeing that being green and their path of worship can go hand in hand. The latest example of this came through the TreeHugger editorial inbox in the form of an email from Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism, urging Hindus throughout the world to make their temples more environmentally friendly and to "openly bless environmental causes, as faith coming out in support of the environment would be a remarkable signal."

Zed went on to say that Hindus should,

Highlight the environment related issues given in the scriptures, undertake energy-saving survey of the temple buildings and become energy efficient, choose environment friendly products, limit usage of cleaning chemicals, purchase energy saving appliances/devices/machines, switch-off lights/computers/machinery when not in use, limit water usage, plant more trees, install eco-friendly energy supply, use temple grounds in environmentally friendly ways, etc.

Pretty basic recommendations here at TreeHugger and good advice for any organization, spiritual or secular.

Here are some examples of Hindu organizations, which we've featured in the past, that have already gotten the message:

sri swaminarayan mandir image

BAPS Sri Swaminarayan Mandir is Solar Powered
This Hindu temple and cultural center in Chino Hills, California (which is still under construction at the time of this writing...) has taken extensive efforts to be environmentally friendly. The entire complex will be powered by a solar power system, solar tube lighting will be used in buildings to diminish the need for electric lighting, and the grounds will feature extensive tree planting.

Tirumala Temple Cooks 30,000 Meals Per Day with Solar Power
Sri Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh, India is by some estimates the most-visited pilgrimage location in the world: Between 50,000-100,000 pilgrims visit daily and during festivals visitors can top 500,000. As part of the temple complex's activities, the communal kitchen cooks about 30,000 meal per day. In the past diesel fuel had be used to run generators to power the kitchen. This has been replaced since 2004 with solar cooking technology, allowing a pretty serious reduction in carbon emissions.

Natural Clay Ganesha Idols Reduce Pollution
You may not have ever heard of the Hindu festival of Ganesha Chaturthi, but part of it involves (in the briefest possible explanation) immersing idols of Lord Ganesha into the water. Traditionally these were made of natural clay, which dissolves quickly, but in recent years plaster of paris idols have become the norm. These idols cause several environmental hazards as they (more slowly) dissolve.

Pune-based company eCoexist has been trying to raise awareness about these environmental hazards and has begun selling natural clay idols. The company also makes natural colors for Holi, as well as other eco-sensitive products.

Rajan Zed photo (top): Wikipedia; Sri Swaminarayan Mandir drawing: BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha
Hinduism, Renewable Energy
Solar Power Hindu Temple in California to Open Summer 2008
Renewable Energy Begin to be Embraced by India's Hindu Temples
Natural Clay Ganesh Idols Encouraged to Reduce Pollution on Hindu Holiday

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