Ahimsa: Protecting Our Sacred Waters

Written for GreenFaith Our Voices and originally posted at http://ourvoices.net/evoke/blog/sacred-waters/view

In June, I had the honor of joining fifty-five other young religious leaders in a GreenFaith Climate Convergence to learn about challenges presented by climate change in Louisiana and to find our voices in responding to ecological destruction. The very first part of our week together was a water ceremony led by Beata Tsosie-Peña, an indigenous community organizer for Tewa Women United. Each of us circumambulated the water bowl, offered our own sacred water into it, and offered a prayer for peace.

As a Hindu, beginning our week of sacred learning with a water ceremony felt fitting. 

b7e0f854789e1a61d05887240838c714Water plays an important role in Hindu practice, especially as a means of purification during and before a ritual. Physical or symbolic water baths cleanse the body and mind and prepare the practitioner to focus on the object of worship or study. Hindu cultures also understand that water sustains life and have historically taken great efforts to revere and protect our waters.

During our week, we learned about the impact of Hurricane Katrina, visited the coastal science research center, and learned about the impact of coastal erosion. Although nominally the focus of our convergence was to understand the impacts of climate change on Louisiana’s ecosystems and human population, in practice our experience was focused on imbalances in water-based ecosystems. It was no accident that water was such an important refrain during our experience in New Orleans. Water is sacred in Hinduism – and in many other religions. Water is the womb of the world.

Today, the world’s waters are suffering.

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