Many Hindu Homes have a small home temple. Hindus make offerings at home, and pray with love and devotion to the divinity resident within. In looking to living the change – Living with Climate Change – we share a small article on the Green Temple, going greener in worship.
(PDF version available here.)
Enter a Hindu temple and you’ll be greeted by the smell of incense, beautiful colours, puja, and prasad. We want our offerings to be Sattvic (in purity and goodness) and made with love and devotion. How can we make our puja as Sattvic, and thus as green as possible? Are we doing everything we can easily do? Many Hindu households also have shrines and altars – why not aim to do the same at home? As will be shown below, making our Puja and Mandir green is easy and all about Dharma, the right thing to do.
Step 1: Greener Puja
In making our offering to the Lord we want the best, to be as devotional as possible. Organic and locally grown fruit and flowers are readily available in most shops. Such produce has less impact upon Bhumi – Mother Earth – with lower carbon emissions and less pesticides polluting the local environment – a more devotional option. By offering filtered tap water rather than bottled brands, we can save money and unnecessary plastic.The more thought and effort we put into our offerings, the more of ourselves we are giving.
Step 2: Home Grown Garden
Gandhi often quoted the Isa Upanishad, which describes the natural world as belonging to the supreme Lord – making this world God’s garden. By being mindful of this, we can make our home and temple gardens greener. Just by growing our own produce we can reduce carbon emissions – and it’s easier than it seems, as fruit and vegetables can be successfully grown in window boxes, allowing us to use the garden God has given us in our spiritual lives. Even if you don’t have a garden you can still benefit the planet by buying organic produce which supports farmers committed to preserving the countryside and its plant and animal life.
Step 3: Greener Festivals
Hindu festivals are huge, joyous occasions, with devotees coming together to worship. Festivals are also a great opportunity to offer our new home-grown produce at the temple. The amount of plastic plates, cups and spoons used at Hindu family and temple festivals can be embarrassing, but we can all help to reduce this by bringing our own plates to temple gatherings. Better still, we could promote the use of biodegradable plates, cups, and spoons to our families and local temple community. We have a responsibility to provide an example of good practice in our religious observance.
Step 4: Pilgrimage
Journeys to the Mandir can also be a part of a greener, Dharma-centered life. Public transport saves a huge amount of energy. Chances are there are plenty of travel links in our towns to local temples and gatherings. Or, if it’s more convenient to drive, why not try car-sharing? By bringing along as many people as we can and making sure we never drive alone, it’s easily done. If our Mandirs are local, we can walk. It’s a great way of lowering our carbon footprint, and increasing our Bhumi footprint.
Step 5: Sacred Waste
We happily receive wedding invitations, Diwali cards and other spiritual publications every year. With their sacred imagery, rarely do we want to throw them in the bin. Yet, there are traditional recommendations of how to dispose of sacred waste – usually burying and burning, but also immersion in running water, provided we have permission from local authorities. We can also recycle the paper and card left behind. Ask your local temple if they have suggestions.
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