HH Karmapa gifted a water filtration machine to Bodhgaya as part of the Karmapa 900 celebrations. His Holiness spoke about environmental issues and solutions during the Monlam teachings. Environmental Protection methods were stepped up during the Karmapa’s teachings and the 28th Kagyu Monlam, action was taken to reduce disposable plastic pollution in Bodhgaya.
23,000 Cloth bags for shoes and tsok offerings were ordered from Sacred Earth Trust’s [SET] women’s co-operatives, a project engaging 60 women and 17,000 clay cups were made by three local potters from the surrounding villages. Overall, there was more awareness about using less plastic during the Kagyu Monlam ceremonies and offerings.
Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee [BTMC] had taken the decision to ban plastic bags from Mahabodhi Temple grounds in September 2009. SET has been working closely with BTMC to raise the awareness of the plastic pollution and disposable plastic ban within the temple complex.
Clean up operation during the Monlam took place over several sites; main market area and street, the Kalachakra grounds and surrounding area, the Tergar Monastery area and front of the Nyingma Monastery. Around 170 participated in the clean up activities, consisting of over 120 Khoryug members of monks and nuns from Karma Kagyu monasteries and laypeople devotees.
A field trip was arranged for the Khoryug monks and nuns from over 44 Khoryug monasteries to explore the Bodhgaya surroundings, to gain a better understanding of the pollution issues in Bodhgaya. The walk included a talk on climate change and exploring the cause and effects. The locations visited were the dried up Naranjana riverbed, the main dumpsites and waste- water courses. The walk included documenting and discussing the medical waste and disposable plastics found in the ground.
During the peak season, most days the air is filled with a smell of burning plastic. This common method of disposal is a way to get rid of the build up of waste for locals but also serves other functions at night- there are poor families and youths huddling around open fires of burning plastic bags to keep warm. There are many pieces of land surrounding Bodhgaya covered in a layer of plastic, these remnants on the dumpsites are leaching toxins causing land, air and water pollution. The air pollution in Bodhgaya is at a critical state affecting health of locals and visitors. A recycling of plastic packaging is being set up as part of the clean up process of the Land of Buddha’s Enlightenment.
For further information on HH Karmapa’s gift of a water filtration machine to Bodhgaya: khoryug.com and for more information on some of the Bodhgaya environmental projects including the recycling project: sacredearthtrust.org