2013 in review

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Ecology in Theological Studies

Thirty seven students of the graduate program of studies (B.Th) of Vidyajyoti Institute of Religious studies, Delhi attended a week long exercise on eco-theology 18-22 Feb 2013.

Theology in India means an investigation into one’s faith, mimansa broadly, to seek answers to many contemporary questions of our times. Robert Athikal S.J, from Tarumitra animated the workshop.

The broad context of the workshop has been the basic idea that Asians generally are religious in their upbringing and life. Tarumitra’s attempt has been to connect effectively the conservation of the planet to one’s Faith.

Both World Wide Fund (WWF) and United Nations have been attempting to high light the connections between Faith and Conservation in the past. Many have commented positively on their attempt.

Vidyajyoti College is situated in the proximity of the University of Delhi

Vidyajyoti College is situated in the proximity of the University of Delhi

Vidyajyoti College of Theology (literally, ‘Light of Knowledge’), Delhi, India, is a institute and faculty of theology run by the Jesuits. It was started in 1879 and the College nestled among he hills of Kurseong for nearly a hundred years. The 132 year old prestigious college of the Jesuits has been flourishing in the neighborhood of the University of Delhi from 1972. It may be mentioned that Jesuits have been known as Educationists primarily and they run hundreds of colleges and schools in the country.
Vidyajyoti confers the Degrees of Bachelors, Master and Doctorate in Theology. It also admits students for certificate courses for one or two years and diploma courses for three years.
Vidyajyoti is known for its efforts to develop a contextual method of doing theology. As integral part of its curriculum, each student is assigned to a concrete social context and initiated into socio-cultural analysis of the Indian situation. This enables the student to get a more competent and comprehensive grasp of the issues that affect the lives of ordinary Indians. Theological reflection is thus closely related to questions emerging from the context, thereby equipping each student to understand the their faith from within the Indian context and in dialogue with India’s many ancient and thriving religions.
The students this week attended the many PowerPoint presentations on the theme of Ecology starting with the Big History of 14 billion years of the history of the universe. Basing on the insights of Teilhard de Chardin, Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme and David Christian of the present times, the workshop touched on the Indian classical theologians like Shankara, Madhva, Ramanuja and modern integrated thinkers like Tagore.

Vidyajyoti students hailed from different parts of the country and most of them followed the Graduate program

Vidyajyoti students hailed from different parts of the country and most of them followed the Graduate program

The students penned down their reflections and poems briefly sharing their insights into the Ecological issues, their personal action plans etc which are reproduced here for greater interaction among the readers.


                           Connecting to the Nature
                             David Ryan Silva, I B.Th.
I found the course on Eco-Theology both insightful and disturbing. Looking at the whole world afresh, no longer as something outside of me, but rather, that very something from which I emerged, and therefore share a connection with, touched me deeply. To look at all of nature as related to me, as all belonging to one family, is a challenge that this course has placed before me. The line from the theologian Thomas Berry, “The Universe is not a collection of objects but a communion of subjects”, has sparked this desire within me, to want to grow deeper in that communion, to treat all of nature with that respect and reverence that is rightfully deserves. I loved looking again at St. Francis of Assisi who saw in all of creation, a brother and a sister, and I pray that I too may be gifted with that consciousness so that this oneness of creation may not be just a thought in my head, but rather, something that moves me from the heart.
I loved that line from St. Ignatius of Antioch, “Creation is the primary book of God’s revelation.” “Both heaven and earth are filled with the presence of God”, is how St. Luis de Montfort put it. I feel called, to be aware of God revealing Himself to me, of the presence of God, in everything around me. The New Living Translation Bible speaks of God who, “placed man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.” (Gen 2: 15).
It disturbs me to see how these words, ‘tend’ and ‘watch over’ are so far from way we look after the earth; Today we could very well use words like ‘exploit’ and ‘abuse’. A question that lingers in my heart is, “What is the human race, the most intelligent and conscious part of creation, leaving for the next generation? Are we being fair to our children?” One does not have to search far for the answer. Yes, we need change the way we see ourselves on the earth, not as owners who can do as they please, but rather stewards and care takers. I would like to end with a Native American Proverb which says, “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”

                                 New Determination
                              Prince Dhibash V., I B.Th.
What insights I got in class?
Nothing but a contrite heart,
Nothing but a few apologies,
Nothing but a few determinations.

My apologies to the creator of the earth,
My apologies to the future generations,
My apologies to the present generations
But surely with determinations.

I wasted water while washing,
I wasted water while shaving,
I wasted water while bathing,
But now have determinations.

I wasted fuel instead of 5 minutes’ walk,
I wasted gas heating my bathing water,
I wasted electricity with 24 hours light,
But now have determinations.

I took lot of food and wasted much,
Never planted or watered any tree,
Moreover grumbled at others’ planting,
But now have determinations.

A determination to save water,
A determination to save energy,
A determination to save nature,
A determination to change minds.

                                  United in the Nature
                                Y. Kishore Reddy, II B.Th.
Before attending this course on Eco-theology, I never thought that I would benefit or this course would give me this much rich realization and awareness. I feel that our way of theologizing should be like this. I am mostly inspired by “Finding God in everything and everything in God”. I as a religious person have to remember that every spirituality is an attempt to live a specific vision of life and living my life in relation to our home the earth. I realized that so far I was living in the world and I caused the world to fill with global Capitalism, global Industrialism and global Techno addiction. I am sensing the desolate and poisonous prospects around me. Surely I believe that I can touch with my living heart the heart of the world and listen to the secret revelations of its unending beat, through which God is speaking to me with much love and calling me to respond to love in everything that where I can find him in Humanity, Animal Kingdom, plant Kingdom. To say in one word, is ‘in Nature we are united.’
I realize to understand what St. Bonaventure says about the three eyes 1.The eye of the body. 2 The eye of the Mind. 3 The eye of the Soul- is a capacity to see, feel and understand things of God is most inspiring words that where one person can realize to watch the Earth through new eyes to see God everywhere so when I am able to see God in everything already I begin to Love everyone and everything in Him for all good purpose. Best way to love God is to see God in everything.
This moment I recall one peak experience of mine in Rishikesh. When I saw the water in Ganges and beautiful Hills and green Plants and the devotion and reverence of the people to God in nature, was a great experience for me of my great union with God and nature. I made a decision to myself that I respect and Love all people, Animals, Plants, Nature and share my Love in God in which I am placed.
            The Eco-Friendly Way of the Tribal People
                       Baldeo Benedict Hembrom, I B.Th.
Tribal people is very much eco-friendly. I can say this with confidence, being a tribal myself, and come from such a beautiful natural paradise – Paharpur in Dhanbad district of Jharkhand. Tribals are very close to nature and they are at home to everything with nature. They are nature “worshippers”. In each festival, they show reverence to nature and celebrate with nature.
They do not use electric lights or any other electrical devices in their places of worship, thereby avoiding any kinds of disturbances to nature. In their celebrations, they come and dance together accompanied by their traditional music. They do not have any elaborate temple, as far as I know, but they worship in nature, at natural things like trees including Karam and Sal trees.
The tribal houses are mostly made of mud, and the roof of Khappra (Tiles) or straw. In their houses, you will not find any air conditioners. Rather, their houses are made in such a way that there is natural cooling through naturally induced circulation of air.
In their cultivation, they do not use any chemical fertilizers, but they employ natural ways of recycling to make manure. So in every situation, they are one with nature and are very much eco-friendly. Now, it is sad to say that many companies come and destroy their natural resources.
The tribals are very much affected by multinational companies. Their main rights like Jal, Jangal and Jamin (water, forest and land) are taken away. In this context, BirsaMunda fought for our tribal people and gave his life. Sr. Valsa worked for them and shed her blood fighting for the rights of the Santhal people. There are many more people who shed their blood to protect their rights and to protect nature.
                              We Need Each Other
                                Usha Barla, II B.Th.
God created everything and all have their place and purpose in the universe. As Dr. Norman Myers rightly puts it, “In the great adventure of life on earth, each species has a role to play; each species has its place. None of them is either useless or harmful, they all balance one another”. But what is going on around us? The trees are being cut, the animals are being killed. The mother earth is becoming barren day by day and losing her beauty, still she lives on for our sake. We are going away from the creation and are becoming selfish in using the creation.
“The best way to love God is to love many things.” The different cultures and tradition of our country bring out the beauty and diversity of our nation. When a bouquet is arranged with different flowers and leaves it has an attractive look but when it is arranged with only one colour or one type of flower it looks dull and unpleasant. Life is beautiful and meaningful when there is variety. The positive outlook towards life can make us free to appreciate the beauty of nature and human beings. As it is said “the beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder.” To find meaning and beauty in God’s creation then we have to open our third eye and that is the eye of our heart.
                          Guardian of the Universe
                            Augustine Thomas, II B.Th.
The Christian understanding of our life on earth begins from the basic fact that God is the creator of this universe. Eco theology helps us to uncover the theological basis for a proper relationship between God, Humanity and Universe. As we see in the book of Genesis, the entire universe is a free gift of God entrusted to our stewardship. So the great work is given to us and we are asked to preserve its richness and at the same time to make profit to the owner by making changes in what is entrusted to our care. We have a double task of preserving and changing for the betterment of the nature.
There was a time human beings could get everything from the nature. They depended highly on the nature as they could see God in the nature. But today the whole scenario has changed. Human beings are alienated themselves from the natural world through their own selfish motives. Today exploitation of the natural resources is a target for many. Human beings have pinched the whole resources and today the earth is not able to fulfil the needs of human beings. We misuse, exploit, destroy and finally we are preparing a burial ground for ourselves and for the future generation.
As Christians and co-workers of our creator, we have a greater responsibility to do things that are beneficial to the earth. Through our lives, we should be able to show to the world that the divine presence is seen more actively in His creations than in traditions and Scriptures. It is high time we perceived our mother earth through new eyes so that we may see God everywhere and in everything. As a result we may respect, love and revere the whole creation which is entrusted to us.
                         Interdependence of Creation
                                Blessin Thomas, III B.Th.
It is said when an egg is broken from outside the life ends and when it breaks from inside a life begins. After attending the classes on Eco-Theology my love for nature has increased. I often thought of a place where lot of trees and plants fill the land and when I saw Taru-Mitra I felt like my dream came true. Being from Kerala I always liked trees and plants and I could learn more from the classes. The elementary principle of ecology is that all creatures are interdependent. We humans always depend on the nature that surrounds us for our survival. Upon prayerful reflection we see that the goodness of the Creator is reflected in all creation and is bathed in an atmosphere of mutual respect for others, whether human or nonhuman. We are called to be gentle, to see our own limitations, to foster care for all creatures, so that in protecting the local environment we might be successful.
When we see misdeeds done to our Earth by human greed and ignorance, we are deeply moved. However, we still must control our emotions so that we can perform meaningful action. We cannot excuse ourselves from entering into the action, nor deny that the injustice is not occurring, nor follow the temptation to escape and leave the battle to others. Our spirituality calls us to face the cause of the suffering and to co-suffer with victims whoever they are. God creates, redeems, and invites us into the noble task of re-creating this damaged Earth. We enter into this mystery with praise, compassion, and a sense of being open to celebration of the diversity of creation.

                                        Heirs of Earth
                                 Denzil Rodrigues, I B.Th.
Just as the fish is in water, lives on water and sees water all around it, so are we immersed in nature (God), live on nature (God) and see nature all around us. When young, I was told by some that nature meant trees, rivers, animals etc. living in harmony. I was also told that nature meant God. These two meanings confused me as I saw both these meanings differ in its external form. This confusion of course made me later realize that they are one and the same. Everything is in God and God is in everything. The entire creation has come from God or through divine intervention and everything goes back to God. We can see the beauty, truth, love, peace and the awesome presence of God in nature. We can look at the heavens and be filled with wonder and spiritual bliss. St. Ignatius of Loyola used to shed tears of joy by experiencing God by looking at the stars.
The new perspective of looking at the story of Noah’s ark enlightened me. Just as Noah was called to protect the life on earth I too felt a strong calling to protect the earth. The covenant that God made the earth made me reflect on God in the Earth, that the Earth is the body of God. It helped me to deepen my outlook of the Earth as sacred and holy.
The story of Swetha Marandi also touched me to the core. It helped me see how we could start with small changes in our lives to save electricity which will help to save lives as the power generated from coal is mined from the tribal regions and the tribal people are paying for our electricity with their lives.

Becomign of Brothers and Sisters in the cyber age!
                           Bibin Mattathil, I B.Th.
The thought of Vasudeivakudumbakam, Universal brotherhood or Sisterhood has always been a dream till the 19th century but the fast increasing technology and sciences made this dream a reality through social networking and sophisticated internet facilities. I think it is high time that Aristotle’s famous philosophical anecdote ‘man is a rational being’ needs a little change and be put in a contextual way- ‘man is a relational being’. The census shows that out of 10 % of the world population 6% uses one or the other social media networks to be in touch with friends, relatives whatsoever.
“All Indians are my brothers and sisters” thus goes the few lines of the well-structured pledge of our motherland which even pre-school kid learn by heart in fewer days of his “introduced to school” process. But it is a sad fact that only lips do celebrate this brotherhood in India. It is high time to become aware that this bro-sisterhood transcends all the LoCs, national and international borders. The barriers of language are not at all a problem now, thanks to the online free translator sites. All these show the urge to build up relationship forgetting the “rationality” which once separated one from the other.
The shift from rational being to relational being cannot be called as the result of evolution or changing life situations but it is something innate in man. One who finds out himself as fully alive with regard to the strength of relations he/she has. An introspective and reflective study of ecology reveals how connected we are or to say, we have one and the same grand father and mother would be a proper explanation of the brother hood and sisterhood we celebrate today. Let us celebrate this “rationality”.
                                The New Eye..
                  Bashyam Srinu (Prashanth), III B.Th.
I am very much moved and inspired by a school going girl like Yugratna who started thinking about the future generations. Even to have a right relationship with the others and the nature, we need to keep the ecological concerns above the religions. As all religions speak about the omnipresence of God, we need to have new eyes to seek God’s presence everywhere. This particular week made me reflect on my life style and to examine my deeds in promoting the ecology. The small daily works like flushing consumes 15 litres of water every time I visit my washroom. I tend to put on the lights as soon as I enter my room at times even when I don’t need the lights. On the postive front, If others waste food or use plastic bags, I discourage them and I use cloth bags whenever I go out for shopping.
The idea of interconnectedness is not new to me, however I feel ever more conscious about it when I look at everything around me. I don’t like caterpillar but like butterfly. In the same way, even if I do not like or appreciate some creatures like bats and lizards, they have their own role in my well-being and the sustenance of the universe. I have felt a strong urge in me to do whatever little I can in protecting the environment around me and educate others who try to destroy the nature. In fact I used to kill snakes and chameleons in my childhood just for the sake of fun. Now I don’t kill them. Let us be environment friendly because they are our real friends who help us, feed us, and protect us without expecting anything in return.

                                  Re-creating Nature
                                     Joby John, III B.Th.
The Earth is Sacred. “Every part of this earth is sacred to us. Every shining pine, every sandy shore, and every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and hymning insect is holy in the memory and experience of each one of us. We are part of the earth and it is part of us.” Said Chief Seattle 157 years back.
When we look at the life of Jesus, we can see a long awaited ecological structure. Both the incarnation of Jesus and his resurrection can be viewed from an ecological angle. In Jesus, God comes as a caring and creative God, revealing that the divine has been with us all along in all of the cosmos in beauty and creativity. In Jesus is revealed a God who relates intimately with creation, not as subject-object, but as ‘I’ to ‘Thou’ in a relationship as intimate as parent to child, life-giver to living person.
Through the incarnation Jesus takes on the form of a God who embraces all creation in love; he assumes the power of creation, re-creation, healing, recovering and ennobling nature; he puts on the mantle of sympathy and empathy towards the suffering ones among his creatures. Thus through the incarnation of Jesus becomes a champion, a God defending as well as liberating his creatures against destructive forces, against the pollution of air, earth and water and the irresponsible devastation of water sources and forest cover, all of which lead us to an ecological holocaust already not foreseen in a not far off horizon.

                             My Beautiful Mother Earth
                               I. Glaster Babin Das III B.Th.
I feel very happy and satisfied after attending the classes on Eco-Spirituality. I was really inspired by the little girl SHWETA MARANDI. While you were telling us about her I was wondering how a little girl of 8th standard could achieve a great success by saving 1 megawatt a day. After the class I too began to use the minimum electricity and water. There is a lot of connection between spirituality and ecology. St. John says, “to love God is to love neighbor” (cf. 1 Jn: 4,20). But I learnt from this course that the best way to love God is to love many cultures, many songs in many languages in many traditions. The best way to love the ONE God is to love MANY. I have summarized my insights in the form of a poem.
Mother, O Mother, my beautiful Mother
Thou grandeur cannot be limited
Even wildest imaginations not upto you
Mother, O Mother, my beautiful Mother
Soft glow and warmth in your heart
Your touch is that of oil falling
Your presence persuades, never coerces
Mother, O Mother, my beautiful Mother
A blade of grass can inspire many
A small sparrow can entertain many
A rain drop can warm up many
Mother, O Mother, my beautiful Mother
A flower can keep one stand still
A honey bee can keep one interested
An elephant can make one wondering
Mother, O Mother, my beautiful Mother
How sad I am today to see
Your grandeur vanishing O Mother
Inspire your children to care for you
Mother, O Mother, my beautiful Mother

Some of the students in the multi-media ready class room

Some of the students in the multi-media ready class room

                                        Feeling Spirituality
                                     Kantela Vinay C., III B.Th.

Eco-theology is one of the last courses in the third year of Theology at Vidya Jyoti. Soon I realized that this course has given me the broadest understanding of Life, Religion and God.
I felt that the course answered so many pending questions of my life. I myself being a Tribal, felt proud of my uneducated great grandfathers, for they even though illiterate, had understood the meaning of life.

My Tribal religion was considered superstitious by the Christian missionaries. Today, I confidently say that my Tribal religion has a very holistic understanding of life and it is not superstitious. My tribal religion is a true religion and it teaches universal brotherhood and sisterhood. I learned in the course that the universal family-hood is also proved by science.

I belong to the Warli Tribe of Maharashtra. The religion of the Warlis has profound life spirituality. For them the Universe is the Womb of mother Goddess. Land is Mother Earth, she cannot be bought or sold or owned. Do not dig the soil for you will hurt the Mother. The Spirituality of the Warlis challenges consumerist values of the world. Warlis do not have concepts like Profit, Ownership, Business, competition in their world-view. In the Era of Ecological Crisis Warlis have a prophetic message to give, Will the profit oriented, modern world listen to their Cry?
                                       Earth – Community
                                    Joby Alamthanathu, II B.Th.
The Earth community evolved into its present form in a process of becoming which unfolded over billions of years. Humanity evolved at the end of the process of evolution. According to a commonly accepted hypothesis, the evolution of the universe began some 14 billion years ago with a Big Bang and initiated the evolution process leading toward the formation of galaxies, stars and the solar system. The earth emerged about 4.5 Billion years ago. While the evolutionary process prematurely ended in other planets, it continued in a dynamic way on earth leading toward the appearance of life about 4 billion years ago and the eventual emergence of the modern humans about 65,000 years ago. Then humans migrated from Africa to other parts of the world. Therefore one way or other we all are from the same origin. In other words we are cousins to one another.
In the postmodern era nature and its interrelationship changed and took new directions. Today living in a highly technocratic world, we fail to perceive the fading charm of nature. We are out of touch with long walks in the village roads, we do not have time to pause and look at the beauty of a flower and appreciate it, we do not marvel at the rainbow and the gentle breeze anymore. Human beings changed the environment in drastic ways and modified it to suit their needs. This created a lot of discrepancies in the whole world. We have to find a solution and only we it’s our responsibility. We have to realize the fact that we belong to an earth community, we depend so much on the earth and its resources for our survival.
We are indebted to the mother earth for what we use and misuse. Therefore I have personally decided to start planting trees and at the same time save electricity as much as I can.

                        My Faith Experience in Nature
                                Tej Kalyan Kujur, II B.Th.
Friends I have had a great experience of the hills and a Sadhuji (Hindu Holy Man).
It is all about my pre novitiate five days trek experience. The five months of long waiting for trekking, finally brought lots of excitements and joys for us. We began our trekking from Kathmandu to one of the famous trekking place called Gosaikunda. My first day experience led me to continue my trek which I was about to give up. First day itself we had five hours of stiff climbing. I was the last person among all to climbers, the stiff mountain called Sivapuri. It is also the source of Bagmati River, which is the Ganga of Nepal. As I was climbing I got a severe altitude sickness, headache and vomiting. But somehow I reached on the top of the mountain. As we reached the top of the mountain tired and exhausted, we were surprised to see a saddhu sitting there alone on the top of the mountain with minimum of cloths. We were above clouds and after few minutes of rest we were feeling cold but the saddhu enjoying the sun. It was in the middle of the dense forest quiet and serine. We had almost an hour of rest there and had a chat with saddhu. Our queries were, how does he live there alone?, how does he manage about his meal and fear of wild animals?

He gave us very simple answer ‘God is taking care of me and nature is providing me here everything I need’. He started sharing about his encountering with wild animals. He told they all are his friends. At last he told that he comes down to city once the place is fully covered by snow but he is back to that place after snow gets over.
Saddhu’s sharing about God and love of nature gave me courage and confidence to continue my rest of the trek otherwise I wanted to take rest in the hotel the night we spent. Afterwards, I did not have any complain. I enjoyed my trekking very much.
This course on Eco Theology once again made me to renew my great experience of God’s creation which I had almost forgotten and made me aware of ‘Find God in Everything’ especially in the nature.

        Finding God in everything and everything in God
                            Sylvester Minz, II B.Th
After attending classes of Eco-Theology I am deeply touched by the nature’s beauty. God created everything and was well pleased. At last God created man and woman in His own image and likeness. Everything of this universe is connected to one another. Similarly everything is dependent on each other for their existence.
One can feel the presence of God in river, mountain, forests, flowers, birds, animals, Sun, Moon, planets, stars, etc. God is present everywhere, not only in the chapel, so best way to love God is to love many things. We should show deep respect and reverence for the whole creation. Watch the earth through new eyes and see God everywhere. See God with heart!

    “Water, Water, Everywhere But Not A Drop to Drink”
                               K. Joseph Amalraj, II B.Th.
It is very painful to see that a few in this massive world have realized the worth of Water.
Without it we, animals, crops and industries cannot survive on this earth. 3/4 of the earth is covered with water and although people, plants or animals can’t use most of it, water makes life on earth possible. We depend on water for drinking, cleaning, agriculture, swimming, fishing, boating, cooking, cleaning, putting out fires and generating electricity. We cannot think of even one item or action that doesn’t involve water in some way or the other! That’s what WATER is but what surprises me is that people have taken it for granted. We let our industrial waste to pollute it. When there is an outpour of rains we complain but don’t realize its greater importance. It has come to save lives not to destroy.

Water plays an important role in our day-to-day lives. It is our lifeline.
Water is one of nature’s most important gifts to us. It is very essential to life. No one can deny that water is one of the most essential elements to good health. Our body consists of 70% of water. It is evidently clear that water is one of the prime elements responsible for life on earth. It has always been perceived as a gift from the God. It brings life to us and it provides the Earth with the capacity of supporting life. It is very sad to see people using towels with mineral oil to clean their skin.
We all are connected with our Mother Earth. Inflicting pain on any creature is equal to inflicting pain on our Creator. Is it not our responsibility to take care of her?
Let’s aspire to inspire.

                                           Eco – Crisis
                                  Antony Lawrence, II B.Th.
In my perspective and process of theologising, I believe that the Holy Bible, far from being perceived as a root cause for ecological crisis, offers not only a credible explanation for it but also the very solution to it and so also the various other religions which try to explain themselves in the background of ecology.
As a popular author Wendell Berry has stated that our ecological crisis is a crisis of character, not a political or social crisis. Today enlightened self-interest alone is not sufficient for motivation, for fallen human beings to deny gratification and sacrifice desires. The religion of consumerism is a spiritual problem, and we must fight fire with fire. Therefore, spiritual problems require spiritual solutions.
As a Christian I fall back on my role model Jesus Christ for all the problems either personal or global. Jesus Christ can transform our fallen and sinful nature and change our character and our values. The promise of eternal happiness with Jesus Christ can free us from relentless pleasure-seeking in this life, and can give us the peace of knowing that this corrupted and abused world will be redeemed and made perfect forevermore.

          “Wildness is the preservation of the World”
                                    Balaraju, II B.Th.
Eco theology means seeking an alternative and counter consumer way of living in the world. Its goal is the development of human communities that live with respect and care for the greater community of life. It relies on ‘sense of the sacred’ as something that lies inside each living being and between living beings when they dwell in mutually enhancing relationships. Sacred means the intrinsic value of each and every living being on earth, understood as a subject of its own life and not simply an object for others and the joy of mutually enhancing relationships. Human beings are called to dwell in harmony with one another and with other living creatures on this earth. Because everything is the creation of the same God who created human beings and the Spirit of God dwells in every creature. It looks to provide a meaningful alternative to both consumerism and fundamentalism.
God is sovereign and free to enter into relationship with persons in whichever way He wishes. But He has chosen to communicate Himself to people through the world that He has created. Through God’s free choice he has chosen created reality to be the medium through which he reveals Hi Self gift to the human family. The more clearly we focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe the less taste we have for destruction. Any species that exempts itself from the rules of cooperation ends up destroying the community in order to support its own expansion.

I consider that human beings are at this stage because they believe everything is created for them and they have a right to destroy it. In the guise of development the sacred creation of God is defiled and destroyed. A society is to be measured in strictly economic terms as though economic growth is the sole criterion for evaluating progress. For eco-theologians progress is measured by how much people care for each other and share in one another’s destinies and by how much people respect diversity, differences in culture, religion and ethnicity. Finally I assert that this earth is a beautiful place to live in, a marvellous work of God. Therefore, let us adopt the principle of “live and let live”.

                          Freedom of ‘The Nature’
                                  N. Britto, II B.Th.
How does the Nature look at me? What does the Nature feel of me? I have no answers because I never asked them. If at all I ask I am not sure whether I would understand their whispers. Nature came into existence long before human form took shape. Speaking in human terminology the Nature is older than humans. Going by the divine principle the younger should respect the elder and the elder takes care of the younger. The Nature in all its vitality has been taking care of me, but the question is, being younger have I given enough respect to the Nature?
From the time we have come into existence on this earth, the Nature in all its generosity has nourished, sheltered, clothed and breathed into us the spirit with which we continue to live. ‘The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom’ (2 Cor. 3:17). We are part and parcel of this Nature. We need to do our part in taking care of our caretaker. We need to be bold and courageous in this venture of caring our Nature. As Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross we too need to sacrifice our time, energy and all our resources in taking care and building up ecological balance in the Nature. Let us free the Nature from the shackles of abuse, misuse, contamination and pollution. Let us sacrifice for the freedom of the Nature.

St. Ignatius of Antioch said “Creation is the primary book of God’s revelation”. God reveals himself or herself through creation. It is not a collection of objects rather communion of subjects. If we destroy one of them the whole creation is affected. We are connected and we need each other very much. We, each one of us, are responsible to protect our universe so that there will be harmony and peace.

                Something Beautiful is Happening!
                                Greta Pereira, II B.Th.
As I wake up and place my foot on Mother earth
“Pada sparsana Shamisi Swami,” I pray
And I ask for a Blessing on everyone
Every being all a part of me and my cosmos
That in every breath that I breathe
I breathe out in blessing and gratitude
As we take responsibility and rejoice in
‘taking care of the earth’ as the Bible says
“Whatsoever you do to the least of these
You do it unto me”
The entire universe is the Body of my Lord
And I evolve joyfully along with
this Hymn of the Cosmos

                                             For my Earth…
                                   Prince P. Clarance, II B.Th.
“The whole earth is full of His glory” (Is 6:3). His glory is manifested on this earth through the animate and inanimate beings. The limitless human interventions on mother earth, has led us into a great crisis the era has ever met.

Scientists have found that the removal of any species from the face of the earth counts very much on earth, except the absence of human. (Perhaps the absence of human species on earth would have been a blessing for the earth if it were so!!) Then why human is the crown of creation? Human has become conscious of itself and at this time of the evolutionary trajectory we humans are supposed to lead or take care of the planet earth using the enhanced consciousness.

But we go against the nature; we misinterpret the term development and ignore the possibilities of saving the earth back to its normal state.
Today we have to define what actually is progress? We have to go back to our original inhabited life where we were in close touch with the nature. Each one should think that it is my responsibility towards the earth and the future generation. St. Ignatius gave us a spirituality which is very much eco sensitive and holistic; and which should be the spirituality of today.
We religious should take courage to be the ambassadors of the earth. We should take courage to give witness for a counter cultural living which is environment-friendly and holistic. The very EASY method to spread this message of eco sensitivity is to promote these ideas among youth and Children (Environmental Accord by Sensitizing the Youth). It is our responsibility to make them start dreaming a green tomorrow for a green future!!

                 Creation – a Book of Revelation
                         Callistus Menezes, II B.Th.
The whole of humanity on the face of the earth is divided on different grounds. Some of the divisive elements are country, culture, race, language, class and so on. But the most important and powerful divisive element is Religion. Religion swipes across all other divisive elements. What is the basis of religion? If we really see, it is nothing but the revelation of God. Different people, different groups have received this revelation differently. Some groups have preserved this revelation in a book and called it the Sacred Scripture. This book becomes a fundamental guiding force of a religion. This book is revered, enjoys the highest place, adored and worshiped. Defilement of this book would result in grave punishment even to the extent of killing each other. People are ready to give their lives to protect and preserve this book.
I would like to stretch this idea to what St. Ignatius of Antioch said, “Creation is the primary book of God’s revelation.” Here he compares creation to the book of God’s revelation. A book that contains God’s revelation is a Sacred Book and is of utmost importance.

Therefore creation is a Sacred Book. If we believe this and apply all the qualities that we apply to any other Sacred Book, how different things would be. If only we have Creation as a Sacred Book of a religion! This Sacred Book will be revered, will enjoy the highest place, will be adored and worshiped; even the smallest word of this book will be greatly taken care of. All members of this Religion will live as ‘cousins’. All things will be harmoniously united to one another. Those who defile this Sacred Book will be punished and separated from the community. How beautiful the world would be, if only we regard Creation as a Sacred Book of God’s Revelation!

          Detachment is to Love the Various  Realities 
Robert I., II B.Th.
A week long course entitled ‘Eco-Theology’ by Fr. Robert Athickal SJ has enlightened my mind about the cosmic beatific vision of the universe. It has also enflamed my heart to reconcile and rectify my distorted relationship with the earth. It also motivated me to offer my total self towards spreading the sentiments of eco-friendship across my cousins.

I am a farmer by birth and I have pulled technological, commercial crops and plants, etc. down aver 1000 trees, eradicated around 200 snakes, caused death of thousands of birds, animals and insects. I have further aggravated the ecological imbalance by adopting the modern technology, commercial crops and plantations. I would like to share my personal reflection on the role of detachment (ten thyktena bhunjita: Isa Upanishad) in the eco-spirituality in order to throw some light on the gems of Indian tradition; that ‘God dwells in the hearts of everything’ (Isha Upanishad).
The competitive human persons always want the three C’s and they struggle every day to gain the ‘Carrier’, ‘Cash’ and ‘Comfort. This attitude caused us a heavy price, an ecological imbalance, contributed by our dis connectivity from the nature, earth, larger universe and its web of relationship. There is total ignorance that we are procession from Alpha to Omega. Therefore after having the spiritual insights given by our great saints like St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius of Loyola, Teilhard de Chardin, etc. We need to celebrate our common cousinship an intimate relation which God established at creation and respond to him in a proportionate way in the words of Vincent Van Gogh, the greater painter; ‘the best way to love god is to love many things’. Detachment does not mean the lack of attachment but it is detachment from an inordinate attachment to any one thing or person or a category so as to appreciate and relish everything on the earth. Detachment enables a person to spare a little place in his/her heart to every variety of persons, cultures, music, Languages, colours, things, arts, dances, traditions, food habits, songs, etc. We need to adopt and accommodate ourselves to variety of things so as to appreciate and relish the beauty in various things. It is possible because every decision to accept or reject is made in the mind. We learn from the nature which accommodates many things and existing together such as trees, rivers, animals, air, mountains, etc. of different category.
To conclude it is a prime time to celebrate with variety of things and persons. It is because God has celebrated at the creation and he enjoyed looking at every bit of the universe and He is the same at the creation, now and in time memorial. The green earth manifests its healing and creative energy of God. Thus we need to fall in love with mother earth with an attitude that ‘I am the earth, everything and everyone is earth in different forms, and all things are destined to go to earth. Let this awakening mark our Lenten penance and sacrifice. Therefore let us join hands together to preserve make the earth a better place for us and future generation.
                                     Where Is God???
                                  Vinitha Vincent, I B.Th.
Child: where are you?
God: I am with you.
Child: I cannot see you. I go every day to temple, thinking you dwell in the temple. But now God, you tell that you are with me and always seeing me. How?
God: I am present in the universe. My immanent presence dwells in all the created beings. You just open your eyes and see the beauty of the creation and you will experience my intimate presence with you and in you.
God dwells in the heart of everything. Am I able to see this reality? If not, why? We live in the world of all opportunities. Our selfishness will keep us away to touch the heart of everything. St. Ignatius of Loyola says, “Find God in everything and everything in God”. We try to achieve the everlasting fellowship with God but we forget to take care of God’s created beings. We stand for the option for the poor. Am I really taking initiative for the option for the earth? Earth is our mother and it has to be taken care. We experience the love of our father, mother God in the world. The beautiful plants, trees, animals, birds, insects… everything is the wonderful creation of the Almighty.
The supreme God is present in each little thing. Our urging towards self-satisfaction makes us to steal the property of others. Let us strive together to protect the beautiful earth, at the same time we can enjoy this creation and give glory to the life giver (God). Let us together with the psalmist say “where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast (Ps 139:7-10). Yes, God’s immanent presence is with us. Let us experience him intimately instead of asking question like “where is God?”
               Human: as Part and Parcel of Nature
                              Noble Joseph, I B.Th.
We are born and brought up in connection with the nature and surroundings. Everything in the nature has got God as its cause. Everything in the nature including ourselves is the outcome of God’s and therefore everything belongs to God. Everything around us adds a new dimension of God’s glory and grandeur of God. God is manifesting himself in everything around us. Respect towards each other drives from this enlightenment and it is to be cherished in each moment of our life. We need to have or foster a capacity to see, feel and understand the things of God with an eye of heart. Then giving water to the plants, looking after the animals, moments of walking in gardens become the golden opportunities of experiencing God. Everything becomes a sacred action and a fabulous opening to God.
What is most fitting into our times is a spirituality that is centered on nature. taking the graveness of the current situations into account, eco-spirituality, finds place here to experience God’s presence from the micro level to the macro level. The respect and devotion that the ancient world extended towards the nature are disappearing in the modern technological times. Eco-spirituality would bring an end to the devastating intervention that the humans make in the environment. We say that ‘charity begins at home’ so first and foremost we ourselves need to be enlightened. Our small action plans that begin in our surroundings would later lead into a greater one. We shall show deep respect and reverence for the whole creation. We are part of the earth and the earth is part of us. May there be a green world with the same beauty and glory when God created it in the beginning.

              Manifestation of God’s love in His creation
                          Sharon (Trincy Varghese), I B.Th.
In this modern era there is awareness that world peace and harmony is threatened not only by the wars, regional conflicts, and continued injustice among the people and nation but also by a lack of due respect for nature. By plundering of natural recourses we ourselves are digging our own graveyard. The Holy Bible says that, “And God saw that it was good” even though God was satisfied with His creation human mind is not satisfied with it. They are in a search to create a better world. But they are not aware that they themselves are cutting the branch where they are sitting. Man of today forgot their creator. They do not co-operate with the creator. Peace with God the Creator, create peace with creation .On the other hand instead of peace it will be pieces. It will lead to the end of the world.
Inventions are good, and God allows it, but instead of loving that creator through these inventions, you and me become so selfish. It is only because of our ancestors love towards us, we enjoy the fruit of the earth. But why??? We kill Mother earth, don’t we love our offspring? We not only destroyed other species, now we are ready even to destroy our own species. Respect for life, above all for the dignity of the human person, is the guiding norm for any sound economic, industrial or specific progress. But today am I caring for my brethren? Today’s ecological crisis is common responsibilities of every one. We are not too late. Let us start from our home. From a tiny seed comes the huge tree, dreaming of that huge tree, let us take a pledge not to burden our mother earth with all garbage and polluted air.
Let us remind each other that it is our obligation to care for all creation. Let St. Francis of Assisi help us to keep ever alive a sense of “fraternity” with all those good and beautiful things which Almighty God has created.

                                           Then and Now
                                     Suman Prakash, I B.Th.
It was then when there was a complete balance in the nature and surroundings of my village. The village was in the midst of trees and plants. The whole village was surrounded with lush green fields. It was one of the important sources of joy and happiness for me in my childhood. I remember how I used to play on trees with my friends; sometimes jumping from trees and other times hanging and swinging on them. We had enough of fruits to eat like Litchi, mango, guava etc. In summer, we never needed air conditioned-rooms because we could relax under trees. We had so much of fun when it rained heavily. In winter we could cherish so much the beauty of green wheat plants and yellow mustard flowers.
All these were then but now all of them are missing.
Now when I enter my village I find it as a dry land. There are not many trees and plants around. People suffer from pricking heat in summer. There is hardly rain and greenery. People long for those varieties of fruits that once we had. Today, what we can see is of so many kilns around the place which destroy the land and pollute the air. The greed of the people has destroyed the nature. The human activities have created an imbalance situation in the nature. Today it is not the story of my place alone but it is happening everywhere.
At this point of time, a question arises in my mind that if God created everything good then who are we to destroy them? In whole Genesis chapter one, we find whatever God created was good. In particular it is said in Genesis 1:31, “God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good.” Thus, it is our duty to protect everything that God has created as good. It becomes more important for us being as servants of Christ and the leaders of the church to sensitize the people towards the God’s creation. We must make them aware of ecological crisis. We need to help them to become eco-friendly. This is the only way we can save and preserve this beautiful earth for the future generations.

                                                  Britto Stalin, I B.Th.
I was very happy to attend the course on Eco-Theology. After getting some of the insights from the power points and the life experience, I remember the words of Bl. Mother Theresa, “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean but the ocean would be less because of the missing drop”. I made up my mind that I should save the nature by doings good things. Even if I do the small things like saving water and electricity, it may be like a tiny drop in saving the nature. But one day it may become a big ocean of kind acts. The best example is Swetha Marandi.
I listen to the trees, and they say: “stand tall and yield. Be tolerant and flexible. Be true to yourself. Stand together. Be brave”. I listen to the wind, and it says: “Breathe. Take care of yourself – body, mind, and spirit. Take time. Be quiet. Forgive”. I listen to the sun, and it says: “Let your warmth radiate for others to feel. Give yourself without expectations”. I listen to the mountains, and they say: “Be there. Be honest. Be trustworthy. Do what you say you’re going to do. Be true, genuine and real. Speak from the heart. Don’t cheat”. I listen to the clouds, and they say: “Be creative. Be expressive. Let your spirit fun free. Let yourself be light and gay, but let yourself be heavy and sad”. I listen to the sky, and it says: “Open up. Let go of the boundaries and barriers which you have created to protect yourself”. I listen to the birds, and they say: “Set yourself free. Sing”. I listen to the moon, and it says: “Love. Share love. Allow yourself to be loved. Be gentle, kind, and understanding.” I listen to the flowers and small plants, and they say: “Be humble. Be simple. Respect the beauty of small things. Respect the beauty of humility and truth. Love yourself as you are.” I listen to the stars, and they wink and say: “Play. Dance, be merry, have fun.” At last, I listen to the earth, and it says: “I am your mother. I give you life. Respect all that is around you. Be especially respectful to the very young and the very old, for they are both very near to God.

                                  Jada Chiranjivi, I B.Th.
In an earlier age of Church history, during patristic era, theologians spoke of theology with two pillars namely God and Humanity. Later as we progress into scholastics era, theology is based not on two pillars but on three pillars, third being Cosmos.
St. Thomas Aquinas found the study of God in the cosmos to be one of the essential pillars of theology. “God,” he wrote, “brought things into being that the divine goodness might be communicated to creatures and be represented by them. Because the divine goodness could not be adequately represented by one creature alone, God produced many and diverse creatures that what was lacking in one in the representation of divine goodness might be supplied by another.” “The whole universe together,” he continued, “participates in divine goodness more perfectly, and represents it more adequately, than any single creature could do.”
After Aquinas’ time, the cosmos as the third pillar of theology began to fade from view. In time it nearly disappeared. I think it is right time that we reclaim it. Material creation is meant to lead us to God who is both immanent and transcendent. The very nature of a human person predisposes us to this vision. All of us believe that God is both immanent and transcendent. If we do not find God who is present (immanent) in his beautiful creation, then how can we ever think of ever having union with God who is transcendent? It is not too late to become aware that we have not given enough attention to protect the Mother Earth for our future generations so that they too will get an opportunity to experience God’s tender love in all creatures on this wonderful planet.

                            That We All May Be One
                                 Poshapir Joseph, I B.Th.
The study of Eco-theology has put me in touch with my cousins. Do you know who my cousins are? My cousins are all the stars, the moon, planets, insects, birds, trees, animals and beautiful human beings irrespective of any discrimination. Yes, indeed! All of us carry the same genes within us because we belong to the same family. We are ONE; earth is our mother, sun is our brother and moon is our sister. We have a substance of our mother in us. We are one of the limbs of this wonderful universe.
We all have come from the same source; that is our loving Creator, God. Each species has a right to live and has a role to play on this planet. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved and each of us is necessary. We are interrelated to each other. If we breakdown this unique relationship, we have to pay the price for our life. God is omnipresent; He dwells in the heart of every being that exists in this cosmos.
Cosmos is intended and desired by God’s free will and unconditional love. God in his infinite freedom continuously creates all that exists in the world. Human being is the last in the series but higher than other creatures. God is life and he communicated this substance to his creatures. Mother earth assists God in the process of propagation of life. She labours throughout day and night to provide food for us. All creatures also contribute in God’s work of procreation including human beings. Human beings have the power to sustain the world through their compassionate stewardship.
Our chief responsibility is to give meaning and purpose to God’s marvellous creation. God has filled us with his love and I believe that the love has the power to break all the barriers and bring us closer to our Creator as a bride is closer to her bridegroom. If we take away love from human beings, then this earth will be a tomb. It is love which has bound us together as a part of the whole universe. To understand love we have to fall in love with our beloved (first with our own self, nature, humans and God) completely – “Whoever does not love, does not know God because God is love” (1 John 4:8).The sacredness of human life calls for commitment to nurture and enhance it and protect it from unwarranted assaults.

                                       God in Ecology
                            Narendra Kumar Singh, I B.Th.
“Any error about creation also leads to an error about God.” – Thomas Aquinas
Down the centuries numerous men and women – irrespective of religions – have found and experienced God in nature. Nature acts as a unique agent that keeps us in touch with the divine. Like other religions, Christians across the globe, are supposed to love and care for this beautiful earth created by God, the Father. However, they have literally taken the Scriptural phrase, ‘have dominion over the earth’. This speaks for our lack of appreciation for the connectedness of all life.
The creation narrative tells us that God created everything in six days. The order of creation implies a hidden ecological wisdom within the story. Humans were not created until late in the sixth day. God loved His creation so deeply that He created us to be like Him – to image Him – to His creation. In making us like Him, God created us to be relational. Hence, we were created to be in right relationships with God, others, ourselves and the earth. God calls His image bearers to be like Him in the world – to lovingly steward all that He has created. He gives humans an identity as His image bearers and a mission that flows from that identity to be co–creators and caretakers who serve God and His creation.
Unfortunately, we have done just the opposite causing immense destruction to the creation. The earth’s groaning continues because of on-going destructive human choices. With the advent of climate change the oceans are warming up, causing violent storms and killing both humans and wildlife. Glaciers are in catastrophic retreat, polar bears are drowning due to ice melting, the deserts are expanding and forests are being destroyed at an unprecedented rate to feed the attitude of Western consumerism.
We often think that God dwells up in the heaven. However, the Bible spends very little time talking about heaven but spends more time talking about a restored creation and the way things will and ought to be. We, as humans, always try to go up and get to God and into heaven, but God is always about coming down to us, bringing heaven to earth. He walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden, met with Moses at Sinai, and ultimately He dwelt among us in the flesh through Jesus.
Nothing in God’s world is secular, everything created is holy and to be revered. Christians have far too long failed to realize this, and have acted as if the holy and sacred are to be found only in places of worship or within cloistered walls. The Church’s most urgent need in today’s world is to embrace a theology of creation that will ignite in all Christians a fervent love and sense of responsibility for all God’s creation. The church must not miss the fact that we will not be successful at advocating or pursuing social justice apart from actively pursuing environmental justice.

                                    Make It Your Dharma
                                   Ambrose Machado, I B.Th.
It is time for us to redefine our dharma “duty” in the wake of the ecological crisis. The dharma of any religion is to uphold the value and dignity of human life. It is to promote human life. The dharma of our religion is to care for every cousin of ours in this cosmos. Today we are deviating from this dharma. Our religious practices and celebrations are causing great harm and damage to our earth. Surely, God will not approve this behaviour of ours. The damage caused to the earth ultimately results into relegation of human life and threat to every living creature. We illumine our places of worship; but at the cost of displacing millions of tribals. To light our houses, they are getting displaced and continue to live their lives in complete darkness. The displacement caused for building thermal power projects is the beginning of the loss of their identity and dignity. This is the beginning of the end of their existence. This cannot be called the dharma of any religion which acts contrary to God’s will.
Our dharma should be to have a right relationship with our mother earth and with every creature in this universe. It is in restoring this right relationship with our mother earth that we can save human lives, specially the displaced and the marginalised tribals. When we care for her, we care for each and every member of our universe. In this family there is no subject-object relationship because we all are subjects. Our salvation, both spiritual and physical is very much connected in restoring the health of our beloved mother.
How can we expect the children to be born healthy if the mother is unhealthy? Her good health will in turn restore our health. Thus this new dharma will lead us to care for our human body which itself is a gift of God to us. As God given gift, God expects us to take care of it. We cannot hope for our salvation in this world if we don’t care for our beloved mother. This new dharma will bring us salvation here in this life because it will uphold not only human life but the life of every creature. Let this dharma flow in every action of ours. Let us heal and rebuild our relationship with our mother earth and with God.

                                We are one Earth’s Family
                          Lucy Sofia D’souza, Certificate Course
“God is not remote from us. He is at the point of my pen, my (pick) shovel, my paint brush, my (sewing) needle – and my heart and thoughts.”
Everything that exists on this Earth and in the entire universe is filled with the presence of God. All that is visible to us, is the mysterious love of invisible God. No matter the colour or the creed, all of us are gifted with the creative energies and all what we need. If there is only 0.01% difference between species, then why is there so much of destruction?
We are created with the same matter as that of the birds and animals, the fish and trees, stones and sand and all that exists in this universe. Teilhad de Chardin opined that the Earth is the body and blood of the Risen Christ that sustains us, nourishes us and gives us the meaning to go forward in life. We need to arise to a new consciousness that enables us to recognize the Divine in each other and the creation. There is no need of pious practices to have communion with God. God’s presence can be experienced in the smallest thorn or highest mountain or in the midst of the people whom we live. Our source is God and we move towards God.
We are connected as branches to the tree, we are born of planet earth, so let us walk with dignity. Human beings have let the Divine within to die and allowed the Ego to overpower them.

Greed and pride has taken over our God nature of sharing and caring. We human beings have destroyed this beautiful Earth, our home.
In the name fulfilling our wants we have no time to look at beautiful sky, flowers, trees and most of all to look at the people whom we live with and recognize God within them. Instead of practicing religiosity let us try to use means and ways where we experience God by being eco-sensitive. Let us as Christians try to see God manifesting in and through creation. The time is here and now; that we show the earth that we care about her future. Let us melt the walls of hate and fear that keep us apart to live together as friends of the earth. Let us live as one Earth family where Love is the source of all our actions and this Love is the presence of God among us.

                  Sahaya Packia Shanthi, Certificate Course
“Let the sea and all within it thunder praise!
Let the land and all it bears rejoice!
All the trees of the wood shout for joy
At the presence of our God!
For our God comes to rule the Earth!” (Ps. 96)
All creation works as God teaches it to work; all things follow those laws that God is printing in the depths of our being. In human beings, God’s spirit prints the desires to make all beautiful and equitable, safe and song-filled. We must, at great peril, attend to those desires.
We pray that an increased awareness of eco spirituality will transform our minds and hearts and bring oneness and integration with one another and with our planet. When we turn again to find God in nature, we recognize that all that exists reflect the divinity and participate in the divinity. All that exist stand before God the way a mirror stands in a field, facing the sun and full of its light. If there is justice in the human heart, it is a share in God’s justice; if there is love among us, it is a share in God’s love. Whatever we do to our human flesh, we are somehow doing to Christ, and whatever we do to our environment, our earthly home, we are doing to our flesh. For even this earth, in whose atmosphere we are punching holes and whose depths we are poisoning with wastes, also groans awaiting its redemption. For all things are to be made new in Christ, in whom we live and move and have our being.
We perceive God working busily in all creatures. Hence, we experience the universe as personal, charged with the divine presence. There is a Chinese proverb “If you plan for one year, plant rice, if you plan for 10 years, plant trees and if you plan for 100 years, educate people.”

                                The story of the universe
                                 Nova Joice, Certificate Course
Billions of years ago the God of our mother universe gathered together its spirit of love, compassion, kindness, gentleness and brought forth her first child, the universe. It was filled with guiding light of moon, the sun of the good health and the fruits of the earth.
This universe had its own beauty in its form. We are called human beings the fruits of the earth flared forth with all its richness and beauty having the sense of mind and heart. As the days passed by, this being forgot to integrate its mind and heart. It only worked through its mind and lost the rhythm of the heart. Gradually human beings gave it a try to work out its mind in every way possible in order to bring the new birth because the bringing of the new birth was implanted in every living being on earth.
In the process of business in bringing new life, human being lost its touch with all of life on this earth. This being forgot to listen to the heart beat of the sister trees Brother Mountains and Friend Rivers. At the end the heart of the living being was so weak because it was not cared by its own and got a heart attack and so did the living being caught hold of its heart from stopping and came to its senses and said to the mother universe, I have abandoned u, I have forsaken u, I have destroyed u bit by bit now can I get u back mother because your love was so tremendous and selfless that you gave birth to me with happiness and with lots of love. So the mother universe began speaking with full of compassion come back to me my love let go of whatever u have savored here and return to me for I am full of love Let go of your selfishness for I am gentle of heart let go your attachment for I am your mother
and return to me the beauty of myself for I am the soul giver in your life.

             Responsibility towards Future Generation
                       Amelina Rodrigues, Certificate course
“Human beings did not weave the web of life. They are merely a strand in it; whatever they do to the web they do it to themselves”.
Our mother Earth and all its inhabitants including human beings are interconnected to form the wonderful web of life. If we ponder or see creation very closely we can feel and experience God in everything and everywhere. If we speak to the creation they respond to us in different ways, plants in the garden respond by flowering in abundance; trees around through fruits in plenty. Animals and birds become friendly and remain faithful till the end of their lives. Flowing waters energize; while silence of the forest refreshes our body and mind. Through various ways and forms the creation has the power and capacity to regain or restore life.
On the other hand human beings as part of creation’s diversity have capacity either to protect or destroy it. For the past few decades human beings have taken their responsibility for granted of caring, nurturing and preserving the creation. They have forgotten that the variety of life on Earth is essential to sustain the living networks that provide us with health, wealth, food, fuel and vital services on which our lives depend. Deforestation has given birth to industrial set-up; factory residue disposed in the rivers has polluted the water destroying the lives of humans as well as creatures in the water and plantation in the fields. The poisonous gas released in the air pollutes the environment and thus resulting in the climatic changes. It is we that are causing violence and destruction to creation.
In the book of Genesis it is mentioned that God brought flood to wipe away the wickedness on the surface of the Earth. And to protect the creation God made a covenant with Noah and his ancestors and also with other creatures. God’s plan was not to make the creation extinct or perish but to renew it. With God’s command, Noah played a challenging role to preserve the biodiversity.
Dear friends today we have reached a critical moment in Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. We need to move forward to recognize in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one family and one Earth community with common destiny. We need to own our responsibility to one another, to greater community of life and to future generation. We need to be “Noah” of our time and make conscious efforts to preserve and protect creation. Because we are part of the creation and it is part of us.

Editors: Prince Clarence SJ and Callistus Menezes SJ

Editors: Prince Clarence SJ and Callistus Menezes SJ                                                        

 Edited by:
Callistus Menezes S.J (Mumbai)
Prince Clarence S.J (Kerala)

Copy of this is also available on http://www.tarumitra.org

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Belgian students Jens Wielandt and Willem Lenaerts raise questions about garbage

Two students from University Belgium Ghent who are students of Environmental management joined Tarumitra for a three month Internship in March 2012.

Jens Wielandt

                                                                      Willem Lenaerts

Willem who give guitar courses to young people and adults said, “The last two years, I frequently heard of the possibility to go on a foreign internship. Although this was during my first year in university college, I was already very enthusiastic. My sister had her internship in South-Africa and she advised me very seriously to take this unique chance.”

Jens the leader of the duo said, “The goal of the internship is to learn as how to solve a problem, on a bachelor level, all by ourselves. We are environmental managers not engineers, so we can’t do anything technical. The most important part of our internship is that we have to find an answer on a certain question. In other words, we have to solve a certain problem.”
Both wrote to us “We will work on your question 5 days a week, 8 hours a day with support of your organisation.”

The two Belgians had to accomplish the internship between 5March and 25 May and help Patna and improve the environment. And they did. They put in daily eight hours of work and often they worked seven days of the week.
Sr. Prema SCC of Tarumitra was concerned since their arrival coincided with the arrival of the summer in Patna. The temperatures could vary between 25-45 degrees Celsius. Concerned also were the parents of the two Belgian students. So the families of the students turned up to see their wards within a few weeks!

Parents siblings and friends of Jens and Willem joined them for a few days!

Margaret Molomoo and Kanchan Pathak who supervised the Internship from Tarumitra found that the two students worked like buldozers! The four students from Zamorano, Honduras who were already doing their internship, Paulina, Andre, Hazel and Samuel reached out to them.

Assisted by Ramesh IMS, the two engaged in clearing up the campus!

Jens and Willem identified the issues of Garbage, especially the non-biodegradable plastics as the main garbage problem of Patna, the city with a minimum of three milllion people. Both moved around and met students, their teachers and parents, bureaucrats and politicians, law enforcement police personnel and the people on the streets.

Willem explaining the natural composting methods to a group of visiting Jesuit Scholastics

Both of them wanted their research to be action-oriented and therefore the attempt was as to move the garbage! They collected non-degradable materials and worked on them to convert them into re-cycled, reusable resources.

Suddenly polythene bags changed their looks. Hundreds of them got fused into strong plastic sheets to become bags and boxes. The four students from Zamorano University helped them to convert plastic bottles into ear-rings! Thrown away coca cola bottles changed appearances as water pumps and Water reservoirs for plants.

Zamorano University  students Hazel, Andre, Paulina and Samuel joined the Belgians along with their mentor Fr. Joe Parekattil S.J  next to some of the exhibits

The campaign manager at Tarumitra Sr (Dr) Mudita Soddder and the regent Bro. Ramesh IMS often joined the duo to clean up the place and level up the grouds. Many of the visiting groups joined them with bubbling enthusiasm.
Sr.Mudita suggested the possibility of an Exhibtion titled Art from Waste where Patna students could bring in waste materials and convert them into art pieces. Finally when it was done, the program was scaled up to a large event. Students from 20 schools participated.

The Exhibition Art from Waste was to show case the possible conservation of waste

The Chief Guest was the Deputy Chief Minister of the State of Bihar, Sri Sushil Kumar Modi who also holds the ministry of Forests and Environment. Sr. Mudita and team organized the show so well, the chief guest commented, “ What a splendit idea showcased so well!”

Dr. Mudita with Fr. Joe Parekattil S.J and the Chief Guest Sri Sushil Kumar Modi

Honorable Minister Mr. Modi moved around and saw the exhibition spread out in 20 tables. A team of judges headed by Srs. Milliscent, Malini and Ms Paulina Kamacho moved around to judge the best entries.

Hon Minister Sushil Kumar Modi moved around to see the exhibits

The many hundreds of visitors to Tarumitra left behind non-degradable plastic garbage. The specially dug pit for plastics overflowed. Jens and Willem along with the South Americans felt that they garbage must be buried underground until viable technologies were around to recycle them.

Jesn and Willem assisted by the Zamorano Interns dug up a big pit in the Bio-reserve to bury the plastics underground

The final 102 page report they submitted to their university in Belgium was down to earth and full of wisdom. The two left Tarumitra after passing on to their counter parts in India that there were ways of working together to make the city waste-free.

Both Jens and Willem visited several schools in the city and interacted with the students and persuaded them to think seriously about recycling waste

Whenever groups of students arrived (almost every day there was a group), both of them addressed on the on the issues. They also promoted Shweta Marandi’s campaign to save electricity. When the temperature shot up Jens and Willem traveled to the hill district of Darjeeling and visited the Notre Dame Schools in Rimbick, Sumbuck, Kainjalia and the Cluny Schools of St. Philomena’s and St. Joseph’s in Kalimpong.

Students in several Schools welcomed the duo with enthusiasm and agreed to be of assistance to the planet

A student leader and a prodigious contestant at the national level, Sharad Vivek Sagar met up with the Belgians at the Art from Waste exhibition.  He said that the presence of the Belgians in Tarumitra certainly helps the students to experience that we are globally connected as taught by the Vedic scholars Vasudhaiva kudumbakam “the whole world is a family!”

Sharad Vivek Sagar (in blue) gives away prizes to the winners of Art from Waste Exhibition

Jens and Willem left Tarumitra by the end of May. The summer sent the mercury up to 46 degrees Celsius. The community in Tarumitra felt that the students deserved the clement climate of their home province in Belgium badly. Both promised to return to Tarumitra at the earliest instance.

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Honduran Zamorano University Students promoted solidarity with Indian students

Patna. 30 April: Four students from the Honduran University of Zamorano just completed a four month long Internship at Tarumitra today. Hazel Guadalupe Valasco Palacios (El Salvador), Paulina Leticia Camacho Ruiz (Mexico), Andrea Lucrecia Gongora Fión (Guatemala) and Samuel Oblitas Vega (Bolivia) spent a fruitful time working with the Tarumitra teams across the whole country.

Paulina, Samuel, Hazel and Andrea in front of the Tajmahal

It may be mentioned that an earlier batch consisting of Yanira, Alberto, Luis and Nivardo from the same university created the ground work for a solid campaign to save electricity in 2011.
The present batch not only continued the pioneering work started by their predecessors, they also branched off into newer frontiers. Along with the sustained campaign on electricity, the group worked every day on a ground-breaking Organic Demo-farm under the guidance of Ms Margaret Molomoo. Every day four of them were seen working in the field vying with one another in this creative act of caring for the Earth. “While we contributed to make the farm going, I thought my muscles got good exercise and my body a good tanning!” smiled Samuel Oblitas recalling the farm drive.

Planting Season for the Onions: Specially flooded plot of the farm

When they harvested Potatoes this year, there was so much excitement in the Bio-reserve. From a small experimental patch, the Earth gifted the students with a total of 300 odd kilograms of organic potatoes. Sitting around a bonfire, the students and Tarumitra team baked a potful of potatoes as an expression of thanksgiving. “Baking potatoes in the winter evening right on firewood was totally refreshing” commented Hazel.

Freshly harvested Organic Potatoes: many said that they tasted better!

They helped Margaret to experiment with bio-pesticides to control the Cut worms who created havoc in the field. These worms slated to become butterflies would come out and scissor off the plants put in by the team. To their surprise the black Drongos ate up the worms faster than they ever thought. The students then planted dry branches of trees all along the field for the birds to perch in the evenings and control the worms. “ The agricultural practices in India have been a learning experience” said Andre Fion. “ I never realized that Natural pest-controllers like birds could be invited to our farms!”

Lalita, Sanju and Margaret (wearing a sunshade) putting in dry branches for birds like Drongo to perch in the evenings

Harvesting time brought in waves of excitement. Each time the visiting students got a chance to taste the tomatoes, cucumbers and other vegetables. The Zamorano students turned up early morning for the regular chores in the garden. A number of visiting farmers sought out details of the experiments in the farm.  Students of the next door St. Xavier’s college too chipped in with voluntary labour and ideas.

Many a vegetable turned up from the organic Farm every day: Ms Margaret with fresh giant radishes!

Andre, Hazel, Sam and Paulina also travelled to other cities. The ancient city of Varanasi (Banaras), the city of Tajmahal, Agra, Region of tea gardens, Bagdogra, the hill-city of Darjeeling, the City of Joy, Kolkata and the Capital of the country, Delhi were some of the places the group visited and lectured on the need to save electricity.

Four of them addressed over five hundred teachers in the Tea garden Region of Bagdogra

The Vishwajyoti Communications guided the four to visit schools in Varanasi where each of the enthusiastic students promised to save 100watts of power every day.

Anand IMS giving tips on the conservation program in Varanasi (Banaras)

The Patna students responded wholeheartedly. The Zamorano students found that it was easy to communicate with them since the schools were familiar with Tarumitra campaigns. Students of Notre Dame, BMP 5, Delhi Public School, St. Joseph’s, St. Xavier’s, Carmel, Don Bosco, St. Michael’s, Loyola, Hartman, St. Karen’s, St. Paul’s, Gyandeep, Adarsh Bal, BD Public, Himalayan, Patna Central, Kurjee Montessorie, Holy Faith International, Patna Collegiate and a few schools in Muzaffarpur and West Champaran listened to the fervent pleas by the Zamorano students to save power.

Veteran educationist Fr. Peter Arokiasamy S.J discussing electricity with Andre, Paulina and Hazel

Four of them also met with the United Nations campaign girl Shweta Marandi and saw for themselves how high school level students can change the course of history.
Tarumitra Campaign Manager, Dr (Sr) Mudita Sodder got their assistance to organize an ART from WASTE exhibition in the Bio-reserve. Over 200 students from 20 schools participated in the day long program where the boys and girls converted waste materials to Art pieces.

Dr (Sr) Mudita Sodder serving tea to the tired workers!: Ramesh IMS looks on (left)

Paulina Comacho, an ace artist made a set of ear rings fashioned out of plastic bottles. The visitors found them absorbing. The local Hindi daily, iNEXT brought out a front page coverage of Paulina sporting the colourful ear rings. She was also one of the judges at the exhibition.

Pulina Comacho addressing the Press

Hazel and Samuel were in charge of a Sky Shop to sell carry bags made of bio-degradable cloth bags. The Deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi found the concept of the sky shope from a tree house amusing enough to purchase some bags for himself.

Hazel and Samuel managed the Sky shop where students could buy a Carry bag made of clothes

Andre welcomed the arriving students on the Registration desk and arranged for their refreshments with help from the two student interns from Belgium Jens and Willem. She also accompanied the honorable judges who assessed the art works.

Andre Fion charmed the visitors to make a pledge to save environment: Jens and Willem, Interns from Belgium look on

“I never realized the importance of saving electricity for the planet until I joined Tarumitra,” said Paulina Comacho. “We took electricity for granted, never realized how the tribal communities are displaced in the process of extracting coal to fuel the powerplants!” said Paulina.

The Zamorano students got a chance to address many groups who visited the Bio-reserve: With students from St. Joseph's Patna

The Zamorano students finally bid farewell to Tarumitra on 20 April after a round of visits of the schools in the national capital Delhi. ” Looking back, I have a feeling that Tarumitra experienced a heightened sense of inter nationality when the Zamorano students shared our roof!” opined Ms Margaret Molomoo. Definitely we have. “The globe became a village when ever we sat around  with them around the winter fires this year!” ruminated the Green architect Fr. Joe Parekattil S.J

Communication Specialist Rappai Poothokaren SJ concelebrated with the group a Winter evening around a bonfire!

“We all miss the four!” said Sr. Prema SCC who shared many a joyful moment with them.  Prema remembered nostalgically two of the birthday celebrations the students shared at Tarumitra.

Nostalgic Birthday Celebrations! Dr. Mudita sharing cakes with celebrated author Sr. Prema SCC

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Winter marches in: Time to think of the Earth again

XIM (Jabalpur) plans to Save Electricity in the campus

Jabalpur 1-2 Dec: 150 Postgraduate Management students of Xavier Institute of Management Jabalpur (XIMJ) spent two days on the Ecological Dimensions of Management. Led by the Director Fr. Ranjit Tigga S.J, along with the head of the Ecological department, Fr. Sebastian Lakra SJ, and a core-group of students they organized the Seminar on Ecology in the newly added Loyola Hall in the roomy campus.

Impressive venue: Loyola Hall of XIMJ

Dr. Mudita Sodder RSCJ along with Fr. Robert Athickal S.J from Tarumitra led the reflections starting with the Mosquito Paradigm to explain the importance of bio-diversity in our day to day life. The staff and students were rapt with attention, making a few interventions to clear the cobwebs in their own heads. They warmed up to the newly acquired ideas and immediately decided to put into practice some of them. Among the follow up Action Plans, the promise to conserve electricity stood out.

Some of the participants inside the State of the Art Auditorium

The core committee of staff and students were soon talking about ways and means of brining changes in the day to the day living in the campus. Being students of Management, they can easily play a vital role in the proper use of electricity in their future assignments as managers.

Some of the students and Staff at recession posing for a pic

The Academic community also planted two Fishtail Palms in the campus, led by the Director. This they said would be a living reminder of loving Mother Earth and living in harmony and peace with her. Students have innovative ways of doing things. Small steps are a sure path to success!

Frs. Ranjit Tigga S.J along with Fr. Robert Athickal Planting a Fish Tail Palm in the campus

known as a premiere Management institution in the State, XIMJ was keen to blaze a trail of innovation. Already they have a whole department working on Ecology under the leadership of Fr. Sebastian Lakra S.J. The Tarumitra team came away with great hope that the Institute will incorporate the sustainable paradigm in their management practices.

The famed Balancing Rock of Jabalpur: Need to keep our earth in balance!

Already, Alok John a first year XIMJ student who came home to Patna for Christmas holidays, visited Tarumitra spending three hours of his short holiday, enthralled by the unique 10 acre Bio-reserve.
He along with his friends hold the key to the future.

The Core-group who takes leadership for the future of a green management with the Director Ranjit Tigga S.J (left)

Jabalpur has been a tourist center for the famed marble rocks and River Narmada gushing through the rocky walls from times immemorial. The city of Jabalpur has been under pressure to accommodate the large influx of lakhs of tourists who leave behind mountainous garbage in the process. “We need better management practices” mused the head of the Deptt. of Ecology Fr. Sebastian Lakra.

Students of Arunodaya attended  workshop

Patna. 7 Dec: 20 students of Arunodaya spent three days at an intensive Workshop on the Ecological Dimensions of Development. Kanchan Kumar Pathak and Ramesh IMS along with Dr. Mudita helped the students to see the development paradigms and the crucial role ecology plays especially in the rural areas.
The directress Sr. Roselyn SCN has been taking regular interest in getting her students sensitized on ecology ever since the Institute opened its campus in Patna.

File pic of environmentalist Kanchan Pathak interacting with Arunodaya students

         Visakhapatnam Convention
                of Andhra Students

Vizag. 10 Dec: Over 1,000 students turned up from eleven schools of the city and suburbs at the Tarumitra Convention held in the spacious auditorium of the Ukkunagaram Club. Organized by the students, staff and the Principal, Fr. Sebastian Vettickal of De Paul School, Vishakapatnam, the venue was overflowing with students. Additional General Manager of the Vizag Steel Plant was the Chief Guest.

Vizag Ukkunagaram Convention of students: Future active!

Many things stood out. The play by the De Paul students on Biodiversity captured everybody’s attention and set the tone for the day. Sr. Prema did a good presentation on the Campaign to save Electricity. It was great to see a thousand hands going up to wave their support to the campaign of Shweta for conserving power.

Green author of textbooks on Environment, Sr. Prema challenging a thousand students

Delivering a keynote address, Thomas Poothara TOR floated the idea of a Tarumitra National Convention in Vishakapatnam sometime next year. The audience gave a standing ovation to the idea!

The group led by Fr. Sebastian Vettickal (right) takes up the challenge of hosting a National Convention

Earlier on the previous day, there was a mini-convention at St Francis, Madhurwada where the Tarumitra team had the whole school talking about the conservation of bio-diversity.

Sr. Prema addressing the students of St. Francis Madhurwada

A veteran of the many Tunza programs of the United Nations, Thomas Poothara TOR promised to get the fire of ecology going in in Madhurwada region.

Montfort Educationists attend Retreat on Eco-spirituality

Patna. 20 Dec: Twenty educationists of the Montfort Brothers of St. Gabriel travelled all the way to Patna from Hyderabad and Nagpur to make a week long Retreat on Ecospirituality. Led by the veteran Bro. Lambert, the group spent quality time with nature.

Educationist Montfort Brothers run some of the most famous schools in the country

The advent of the unpredicted cold waves did create a problem to organize the usual outdoor programs. Yet the group were buoyant and had their evening liturgies outside around bonfires. Incidentally, this was the second retreat Tarumitra was organizing for the Montfort Brothers. Earlier a bigger number from the twin provinces of Pune and Hyderabad spent a week in Hyderabad on the same themes.

The Hyderabad Retreat organized some imaginative liturgies outdoors!

Many of the participants made Action Plans to carry out programs on ecology in their respective places.

It may be mentioned that the  Montfort schools have trained some of the very famous leaders in the country. The cricket wizard Asharuddin and Marxist  ideologue Sitaram Yerchury are alumni of the prestigious All Saints School, Hyderabad.

Marriage of trees to the wells in Bhurkunda, Jharkhand

Bhurkunda. 22 Dec: Hundreds of Tarumitra students took part in the Eco-camp led by Fr. Saju Bastian S.J and Sr. Anupam  H.C along with Ramesh IMS and Kanchan Pathak from Patna. As part of the camp, the students organized the marriage of trees to the wells in the region.

Students apply colors on the bridegroom the tree by the well!

33 kilometers from the Capital of Jharkhand, Ranchi, Bhurkunda is surrounded by  coal mines.  And the famous thermal power station Pataratu. Students from Loyola and Pawan Krus Girl High school participated in the two day workshop. Bhurkunda has the biggest glass factory in the country and the second largest in Asia.

Paying homage to Water: students carrying pot of Water for the marriage of the well

Recently returned, after a memorable encounter with the Adivasis of  Guelph, Canada Fr. Saju was impressed by the Tarumitra tradition of organizing the marriages of trees and wells. A time tested ritual in every Hindu marriage, the ceremony symbolized the harmony that exists in nature. Every human marriage takes place against the background of the “marriage of trees and wells.”

Acting high priest of the earth: Saju Bastian S.J

Explaining the custom, Kanchan Pathak said, “Trees and wells are symbiotically related. Where there are trees, there is water and vice versa.” Every human marriage takes place against the primordial marriage (intimate relationship) between trees and water. “We are appreciating the connections we have with the Earth when we enact the marriage of trees and wells!” said Bro. Ramesh IMS who led the Tarumitra delegation to Bhurkunda.

Marriage procession: the Tribal drums came alive!

The Principal of the Pawan Krus Girls High School, Sr. Anupam said that she felt drawn to the ceremony. She said that the elaborately enacted ritual gave the students a spirituality that would build up the planet. Boys and girls represented the bridegroom and the bride through singing and dancing. “It was a real marriage!” said Simmi Kumari, a class 8 student.

A dance for the newly wedded bride and bridgroom: students of Pawan Krus

Having been a spot of intense exploitation of the Earth, Bhurkunda needs more than a few students to bring back life into the region. “Though we supply the best coal and the best glass to the country, nobody returns  to find out if we are happy in this township!” said Triloki Badaik and Akash Lohra of the Catholic Ashram School.

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Tarumitra Students at the U.N Tunza Conference in Indonesia

Bandung.Indonesia Oct 1: The UN Conference of Children and Youth, broadly termed as Tunza (African word for Caring) took place in the historical city of Bandung in Indonesia 27 Sept to 1 Oct 2011. The purpose of the series of Tunza conferences has been to foster a generation of environmentally conscious citizens.19 participants from Tarumitra were chosen this year on the basis of their personal and group projects to promote ecological sensitivity among their peers.

The 19 member Tarumitra Delegates in front of 1500 Delegates from across the Globe

Indian delegation in their colorful traditional ethnic dresses

Tarumitra-wise, two from Darjeeling, one from Vishakapatnam, two from Bangalore, eight from West Champaran, one from Lucknow and five from Patna participated in the event. Yugratna from Tarumitra Lucknow who addressed the world leaders at the U.N in 2009 participated as the lone delegate from Tarumitra to the Youth conference.

Yugratna (Centre) along with the Indian Embassy officials at the conference

The afternoon flight to Indonesia on 26th took the group to the capital city of Jakarta by sun down. There was an official welcome committee at the airport and they facilitated the late night three hours trip to Bandung.

The midnight flight from Kolkata and a long halt in Bangkok forced many to take occasional cat naps: Vasundhara from Patna totally oblivious of the Bangkok din and buzzle1

The Indonesian welcome group was in special T-shirts were very hospitable and friendly, asked the delegates to take a fast supper and brace for a three hour ride on a bus to the venue of the conference in the city of Bandung. After the students purchased the local currency rupiahs and a hurried dinner the group moved out to the city in the night. By the time the bus rolled out along with other fellow delegates from Russia, Singapore, Germany and Canada, the children were fast asleep. Many like Adel, Sushmit and Asad were fascinated by the nightscape and sat watching the city. The city certainly looked like any developed Western city.

Indonesia was exotic in every sense. The local students were overflowing with hospitality and goodwill

By the time the delegation was photographed and registered in Hotel Jayakarta and Holiday Inn it was wee hours of morning. When the alarms rang up early morning it was a herculean task for the students to get up and eat their first Indonesian breakfast. It was time to hop into buses which took them to the well-arranged hall where the inaugural ceremony was to take place.

Excitement was everywhere! Delegates registering and getting their photo-IDs

Right in the bus, the local volunteers made announcement that an Officer from the Indian Embassy was waiting to meet the Indian delegation. Pradeep Gupta of the Indian Diplomatic Service turned out to be an amiable friendly man who took a ten hour ride just to welcome the Tarumitra delegation to Indonesia. He sat down with the contingent when the dignitaries arrived one after another for the opening ceremonials. Honerable Vice-president of the country was the chief guest.

Indian Diplomat Pradeep Gupta (2nd from right) between Sudeshna Pradhan and Robert Athickal S.J

When the ceremonial speeches were being trolled out, some of the group were feeling very sleepy. Ms Sudeshna from Darjeeling and Sr. Irene D’Souza from Holy Cross School took a side exit to a coffee shop downstairs selling the famed Indonesian coffee. The price of the coffee left them flummoxed! 20,000 rupiahs for a cup of coffee. This meant a person can take just five cups for one lakh rupiahs. The Indian diplomat consoled them that the coffee costed just about 100 Indian rupees. He taught the students as how to calculate the equivalent amount in Indian rupees: delete the last three zeros and then multiply it with 5! Later one of them, Thomas Poothara TOR found out a local chaiwallah was selling the same coffee for 3000 rupiahs i.e Rs 15. One cannot but remember the story of milliions of Italian lira needed to purchase small things. In other words, one can become a karorepati if they have a thousand dollars in Indonesia.

Chaperon Sudeshna Pradhan stealing time for a brunch with some delegates

Everything said, the conference has been a celebration of cultures and countries. On the first day when all delegates arrived donning national costumes, there was an atmosphere of a global festivity. They spoke all languages and this necessitated translations. One of the Chaperons, Dainy Cherian mentioned that she wished that the organizers paid more attention to this aspect and buried some of the bureaucratic procedures.

The whole world is a family "Vasudhaiva kudumbakam"

Chaperons mainly consisting of teachers got ample chances to discuss ecology

Imagine 1500 persons belonging to four categories: Children, Youth, Organizers and U.N officials sharing a single building for varieties of meetings! Buses disgorge them from different hotels at pre-assigned time early morning. The whole group disperses into a dozen halls for meetings and activities. For an outsider the whole thing looks total insanity. But everybody knew their ways and timings.

Eco-cultural fiesta in the wild: Ceremonial procession of Saplings to plnated

Planting trees in Indonesia: City Forest Campaign of the local Mayor

Program mainly consisted of :
Day 1 (Green Economy)
Day 2 (Sustainable Consumption)
Day 3 (Forest)
Day 4 Field Trip
It is very difficult to write a summary of what took place in the five long days here in Indonesia. To be short, everything worked out fine.

Bernadette Mukonyora from Rome engaging Youth about returning to Agriculture back home

There were many workshops and side events. The purpose of the whole meeting attended by 1500 students and Chaperones from 120 countries was to bring out a Resolution to be sent to the United Nations. From day one, the assembly struggled on formulating the Draft and finally the Bandung Declaration (http://uncsd.iisd.org/news/unep-tunza-conference-develops-bandung-declaration/).

Bernadette Mukonyora from IFAD, Rome (middle) made an earnest plea to the youth to go back to Organic farming as a career

The whole area surrounding the campus is cordoned off by police. While traveling on a taxi to the venue students and chaperones were checked several times. The ID card that dangled on their necks alone allowed one to negotiate the way in.

Sudeeksha (De Paul Vizag) from Vizag was totally charmed by the Indonesian Police officers!

Snacks were provided at intervals and lunch and supper at fixed times on the roof top of the halls. Every meal was accompanied by singing in different lingos. This noon there were bunches of Indians and Indonesians singing Hindi songs. Hindi songs and actors like Shahrukh Khan were very popular here.

West Champaran gang from Bihar led by Ravi Kr leading Terrace dancing during meals!

Keeping up with the tradition of dancing, a Tarumitra from Bangalore, Albert enthused the large assembly on the last day when he pirouetted on the stage dancing the famous Jai Ho of A. R Rahman. The audience turned delirious and cheered him to carry on.

Bangalore Tarumitra student, Albert Antony's scintillating dance of "Jai Ho" was well applauded

1500 delegates danced with Albert's Jai Ho piece!

One morning the Chaperons were herded into buses for shopping in the large market places. The guides told them to bargain heavily by starting with 25% of the prices they quoted! Denis Rodericks from KR High school Bettiah said that it was more like the markets in India and therefore it was easy to bargain!

Things were as expensive as India. One said that that there were many more choices here since provisions arrive here from China, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan. Some found quite a few varieties of fruits they have not seen earlier. There was the jackfruit like Dorian, the round fruit that tastes like Litchi, giant raspberries, livid violets etc.
Some of the chaperones like Mr. Ravi from St. Xavier’s Champaran could not make up their minds as what to buy!

The elections for the Youth Board took place. Yugratna was our best bet. But she could not contest since she was under age! A girl from Bangalore was chosen to represent India.
There was a training for children as well as chaperones to face the TV cameras with confidence. That was rather unnerving but very useful.

Chaperon Thomas Poothara TOR feeling confident as a TV Newsreader!

There were also many moments for fun and laughter. For example, when the groups returned to their respective hotels, they got more time to unwind. Many of the Indian delegation who stayed in Hotel Jayakarta had whale of a time in their large swimming pool. One heard loud peals of laughter and excited screams for hours. The Chaperones had a hard time to get them back to their beds.

Hotel Jayakarta offered the students plenty of time to unwind in their spacious swimming pool in the evenings!

Simran took her swimming lessons from Ms Sudeshna

“Bidding farewells on the last day was tough” said Simran from Bettiah. She was not exaggerating. It was difficult to come back from a lovely dream called Tunza!

Indonesia, we love you!

Tarumitra salutes the United Nations Environment Programe (UNEP) team especially Theodore Oben, Joyce Sang, Alice Chege and Edgar.

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Engineers of the Bihar Government promise to save electricity

Patna 26 March 11: The Engineering Staff of the Bihar State Road Development Corporation (BSRDC) along with the Chief Pratyay Amrit IAS spent a day at an Eco-sensitization program at Tarumitra Bio-reserve.

Engineers of BSRDC taking a study tour of Bio-diversity

The group arrived by ten in the morning and spent time on the issues of ecology till 4 PM. They were taken through two sets of PowerPoint presentations on an eco-friendly way of living life in the modern times. Bio-diversity as the pillar of life appealed to them especially when they took a tour of the campus.
A team led by Shweta Marandi, the Hero of the Month of the United Nations, along with Sankriti of Carmel school unlocked before the assembled engineers a well prepared presentation on the need to conserve electricity. Shweta quoted what the deputy Chief Minister of Bihar, Sushil Kumar Modi said earlier in a public meeting that the biggest problem of the State was power supply. She reminded them that the State needed to produce 80% more electricity in the coming decade. Since coal linkages were not available, the State neither was able to produce the required energy nor in a situation to purchase more power from elsewhere.

Shweta keeping the Engineers spell-bound with her intense campaigns for saving power!

As a person who helped to organize the outing to the Bio-resever, R.P Singh felt that it was the need of hour that all the staff of his department make every effort to conserve the power. Brajesh Mishra felt that Shweta and Sanskriti were doing something which has touched his heart and he promised to save electricity in his office. Neeraj Saxena who co-ordinated a similar workshop when he was working at the State Bridge Construction Corporation said that he kept of pushing the agenda in the past one year with some visible success in his department. He also said that people were careless in many departments on the use of electricity since the bills are paid by the State. Jyoti Srivastava promised to keep reminding his colleagues on the need to push the campaign to other areas of their work.

Engineers taking a serious look at the Solar devices

The Corporation Chief and Secretary to the Bihar Government, Pratyay Amrit thanked the girls for their initiative and promised to support them in other departments of the government. He joined a well prepared vegetarian meal along with his staff and later toured the campus stopping by the bottle house under construction.

Tarumitra team with the Secretary of the Road Construction Dept, Sri Pratyay Amrit IAS (center)

Shweta and Sanskriti wants to reach out to many other departments of the Government of Bihar. Earlier she addressed the Bihar Bridge Construction Corporation which gave her assurance of co-operation. “A big chunk of the total electricity supply to the State capital is consumed by the administration” said Sanskriti.

Shweta earlier addressed a meeting of the Engineers of the Bihar Bridge Construction Corporation

Present also were Rajesh Kumar, Chiranjeev Kumar , D.N Prasad, Kanchan Pathak, Margaret Molomoo, the volunteers from Zamorano University Honduras Yanira, Alberto, Nivardo, Luis and Fr. Robert Athickal S.J

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Earth Day celebration 2011: Marriage of a Well to a Tree

Patna. 21 April: Over a hundred student representatives from Mount Carmel, BPS, Hartmann, Gyan Jyothi and Gyan Deep met at the Tarumitra Bio-reserve in Digha to celebrate the World Earth Day. They participated in it by enacting the traditional Marriage of a Well to a Tree.

Painting done by one of the students, Utkarsh Datta Class VI of BPS

Shweta Marandi , a Tarumitra student leader from Mount Carmel, who compered the program said that our ancestors knew the delicate interdependence of the trees and water tables. They solemnized this symbiotic relationship of trees and water by organizing their wedding at every Hindu marriage where the priest presided over the marriage of the well to a tree along with the nuptials of the boy and the girl. “Every human marriage is protected by the greater wedding of the trees to the wells!” said Sanskriti Chauhan, another student.

Shweta Marandi, Mount Carmel explaining the concept of the Marriage of a Well to a tree

As part of the celebration students came in groups and organized the waving of lamps (aarti) both to the “bride” and “bridegroom” along with other rituals of a regular marriage. They exchanged garlands on behalf of the large Kamroop tree( Ficus retusa) and the ancient well.

Bhavana, of Hartmann leading the Aaarti and the garlanding of Ficus retusa!

They further joined en mass to prepare the strong gatbandhan “marriage band” by tying mango leaves on the yellow rope . The students showered specially coloured rice on both the tree and well when one of the volunteers Kanchan Pathak chanted the nuptial mantras.

Preparation of the Gatbandhan "Marriage band" with mango leaves

“I am very touched by the devoted participation of students and they made the occasion a memorable one” said scholar of economics Dr. Chirashree Das Gupta who was the guest of honor.

“The Water table is depleting day by day and this trend poses a serious threat to life on Earth. Thus there is a serious need to save more and more trees to keep the eco-system habitable.” said a senior member of Tarumitra, D.N Prasad.

” I was so happy to see that our kids are taking serious efforts to protect their mother earth along with their future.” commented the Director of BPS School Anil Kumar.

Garlands and Aarti "waving of lamps" on the Tarumitra Well

Students of BPS organized nuptial taps under the leadership of Khushbu and Pintu. Himanshu from Gyandeep did a solo on Tera hi jalwa. There was marked enthusiasm shown by the students totally sheltered from the summer sun under the Kamroop tree. They clapped and thumped as the dances gained high speed!

Khushboo and team from BPS regaling the gathering with Satyam Shivam Sundaram

Many teachers too participated in the event under the co-ordination of D.N Prasad. Present also were Ms Margaret Molomoo from Darjeeling, Rajesh Kumar, Ravinesh, Sanjay Sigh, Ignace Xalxo, J Raj, Fr. Robert Athickal  and Amardeep.

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Central American Students trail blaze in Bihar!

Patna. 23 March: Four students of Agriculture and Environment from Zamorano University Honduras have been pioneering a trail on a campaign to conserve electricity in Bihar. Ms Yanira Pech from Belize (L) Nivaro Cerceno from Panama, Alberto Quintana from Mexico and Luis Huezo from El Salvador joined Tarumitra in the first week of January 2011.
Guided by their perceptive and understanding guide, Professor Martha Calix, the four arrived with a plan to do internship at the Tarumitra Bioreserve in Patna for the ensuing four months. After some bouts of brainstorming it was suggested to organize a pioneering campaign on the conservation of electricity.

Alberto, Yanira, Luis and Nivardo

Working with the staff guide from Tarumitra Ms Margaret Molomoo, the four worked as a well knit team to reach out to nearly 30 high schools and colleges in Bihar. “Over the months we probably talked to over 5000 students on the need to conserve every wattage of electricity.” Said Ms Yanira Pech.

Ms Yanira interacting students in Hartmann High School

Being a pioneering work, they needed role models and examples to be presented to the peer group. “We took cues from Ms Shweta Marandi, a class 8 student of Mount Carmel School, Patna” said Nivardo Ceceno who got connected to audiences easily. It may be mentioned that the United Nations recognized the trail blazer in Shweta by granting her the honour “Hero of the Month” back in 2008 for her campaigns to replace bulbs with CFL lamps. http://www.unep.org/tunza/children/inner.asp?ct=actions&ac=bulletin_board&bd=hero_profile&hr=shweta

“Students easily could catch up with Shweta since she belonged to their peer group” said Nivardo. Shweta started her campaign stating that the use of electricity alone contributed the major chunk of pollution in the modern times.

Hero of the Month, Ms Shweta Marandi joined the campaign in person

“We repeated what Shweta discovered that one unit of electricity in India was produced by burning 52 kilograms of coal” said Alberto with his ever friendly smile. The Four urged the students not only to replace bulbs with CFL lamps, but also develop the habit of putting off electric appliances like lights, fans, heaters etc as and when possible. Many responded positively to the visiting students from Honduras by promising to comply.

The group was fortunate to team up with Shweta and Sanskriti from Carmel School since both the girls  were free to join the campaign after their final exams in the school.

Being an innovative group, the four planned to build a Smokeless oven at Tarumitra. They followed a model developed at their university to every detail while implementing its construction using bricks and clay next to the Solar cookers. “I was amazed at the effectiveness of the oven. Absolutely no smoke even when we cooked three pots simultaneously!” said the green architect Fr. Joe Parekattil S.J.

Team of Yanira, Nivardo, Alberto, and Luis along with Staff guide Margaret Molomoo

Luis Sanchez commented that he enjoyed working on the construction of a hut along with Fr. Joe using geo-thermal energy to cool the interiors. “We found it was fun to carry bricks, soil and sand for the construction” said Luis.

His Excellency the Governor of Bihar Devanand Konwar earlier laid the foundation for the  Geo-thermally cooled Eco-hut and was waiting for volunteers to complete the construction.

The Four contributed significant amount of time for the construction of the Eco-hut

The whole concept of the Eco-hut was to use local and if possible thrown away materials with innovative ingenuity to make a livable and air-conditioned space.  The whole building is plastered with soil and the ceiling with local bamboos.

Yanira and her group spent many a memorable afternoons under the canopy of the tall Kamroop tree helping to craft the Eco-hut!

The group carried soil for the plastering of walls, mixed saw dust  and glue for the roof, chiseled the bamboos for padding the ceiling along with local volunteers and Tarumitra staff.

Luis carrying soil for the geo-thermally cooled house

” It was fun to light a wood fire and prepare the glue using local techniques” said Nivardo and Alberto who spearheaded delicate task of padding the ceiling to make the rooms heat-proof. Luis added a rope and pulley kit to pull up buckets of saw dust to the upper floor.

Sisters of Notre Dame, Asha and Maryanne had applauses for the work of the students! Alberto preparing the glue and Nivardo, Luis and Margaret operating the gear to pull up materials.

The group is shortly on their way to Bangalore for a week of assemblages in different institutions. Co-ordinated by Dr. Meath Conlan of Holy Cross run  Maitreya, Bangalore, they will be teaming up with students of St. Joseph’s College in their campaigns on electricity.

The four with Anshal who joined them to visit schools and translated from Englishto Hindi : Students from each school promised to save electricity in their homes!

Priya from Adarsh Vidyalaya said that she would remember the visit of their “Cousins” from Central America, “ I hope to visit them sometime in my life” added Priya when she was asked to comment on the visit of the Zamorano students.

“The most important part of the internship was to live and share a roof and create a cousinship while giving  shape for a common future on the  earth.” said the Co-ordinator of Tarumitra Robert Athickal S.J. He commented also that the Tarumitra dream has been to bring together an international team spirit in collaboration with the United Nations in the ecologically fragile times of the 21st century on the planet!

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Educationists in Goa resolve for Green Action

Margao, Goa: Over a hundred teachers, Principals and alumni came together in the famous Clube Harmonia for a One day seminar on eco-sensitivity and eco-friendly living. The program was ably organized by the alumni of the 150 year old Jesuit run Loyola High School.
The Chief Minister of the State, Sri Digambar Kamat inaugurated the workshop. As a chief minister, he stated he was viewing development of Goa without destroying the environment that made Goa the “paradise of the East.”

Fr. Anthony Da Silva welcomed the participants. Fr. Robert Athickal, Sri Digambar Kamat Chief Minister, Francisco Lume Pereira and Dr. Orla Hazra

The Jesuit Provincial Fr. Anthony da Silva joined the Chief Minister to light the traditional lamp along with Cosmologist Dr. Orla Hazra, the Principal of Loyola Fr. William Rodrigues SJ, Alumni (LESA)President Dr. Augustine Misquita and Co-ordinator of Tarumitra Fr. Robert Athickal. Fr. Anthony in his welcome address requested the Chief Minister to remain vigilant on the forces that are bent on destroying the fabled legendary Goa.
Chief Minister lighting the traditional lamp and inaugurated the Seminar

Chief Minister lighted the traditional lamp and inaugurated the seminar

Alice Misquita who compered the programme expressed hope that the teachers and parents would help the students to take into their head their unique role as decision-makers of tomorrow. Mr. Francisco Lume Pereira of the Fomento Resources reiterated the firm resolve his company has taken to promote environmental care.

Co-ordinating the workshop , Fr. Athickal warned the assembly that the present day Goa would disappear right in front of their eyes in less than ten years. He said that the city was bursting at its seams as an unprecedented number of visitors made a beeline to the city. The holiday makers would return to their respective places after dumping piles of stinking garbage into the city drains and the now drying River Mandovi.

Teachers, Principals and Alumni members took active participation

A core group of teachers was constituted to carry on the follow up actions under the leadership of Ms Durga Shirodkar, Loyola high school. Ms. Luisa Mascarenhas, Our Lady of Lourdes, Utorda, Ms Dulcina Pereira, Fatima Convent HS, Ms Shaefali Lendhay Vidya Vikas Academy, Anita Keny New Era HS are the members of the core group.

Newly constituted Core team to follow up the Tarumitra process with Fr. Athickal and Dr. Orla Hazra. Mrs. Durga Shirodkar on the extreme right

A second Seminar was also organized by the Jesuits in the nearby city Belgaum on the following day. Besides the Jesuits, students and teachers from St. Joseph’s, St. Paul’s, Sarvodaya, Bhatkande, Divine Mercy and Divine Providence also joined the sessions.

Students from St. Joseph’s, St. Paul’s, Sarvodaya, Bhatkande, Divine Mercy and Divine Providence

The venue of the meeting was the Xavier Training College (XTS)with its 70 acre farm greenery at the background. Over a hundred participants promised to take up action. Each of the schools planned a number of action plans for the year. Fr. Roland Coelho S.J along with Fr. Beneto Fernandes SJ promised to co-ordinate the campaign in Belgaum at the foothills of the Western Ghats. XTS offered the students a round the clock welcome for future eco-camps in its spacious campus.

Hands up and raring to go! Student delegates from six schools at XTS Belgaum

Fr. Agnelo Mascarenhas  from Panjim Goa, accompanied the Tarumitra team to Belgaum. He also compered the workshop for the Jesuits on 26 Feb evening. The 25 plus veteran Jesuit educationists who brainstormed for Belgaum suggested the possibility of XTS becoming a hub for the conservation of Bio-diversity. They asked Fr. Benita Fernandes if he could pioneer a Bio-reserve for the State as well as to resort to the organic farming methods in the campus.

Activist assistant Fr. Agnelo Mascarenhas S.J with students who made sure that the Tarumitra team met the deadlines in time

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