London: Hundreds of Hindus carrying ornate pots or Kumbhs will parade through major British cities like London, Manchester, Leicester and Dudley over the next three weeks as part of a unique and colourful pilgrimage symbolising their commitment to protect the environment.
The "Green Kumbh Yatra" is an international initiative featuring a central "sacred" metal `kumbh` that is being carried across numerous countries to promote the importance of environmental and biodiversity conservation.
"Spirituality and religion`s role in conservation is as old as time itself and this pilgrimage emphasises the profound connection between the collective wisdom and resources of our faith traditions and their role in conserving biodiversity," says Kusum Vyas, founder of the Green Kumbh Yatra.
"Our aim is to highlight the connection spiritual places such as sacred groves, rivers and mountains, temples, churches, synagogues and mosques have to their environment, and how worshippers are custodians of those environments," she adds.
The `Green Kumbh Yatra` was launched last year at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity in Hyderabad.
Since its launch, the sacred `kumbh` has been greeted in numerous sacred sites across India, including a visit to the famous `Maha Kumbh Mela`, held once every 12 years in Allahabad. It has also travelled to Nepal, Kenya and Israel.
The Yatra will end in Seoul, the capital of South Korea, in 2014. It is now in Britain, ahead of a move to the US.
The initiative has been described by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as "the world’s largest civil society movement on climate change".
"I am indeed proud to be your partner in this initiative. Your support of the work of the Convention and its goals of conservation, sustainable use and equitable sharing of benefits is crucial if we are to achieve the revised Strategic Plan and Its 20 Aichi Targets by 2020," Dr. Braulio F de Souza Dias, Executive Secretary, Secretariat of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, said in a statement.
The procession at Wembley in north London on May 24 at the Shri Sanatan Temple is expected to be especially dramatic as at least 100 Hindu women will be joining the parade carrying Kumbhs on their heads.