From Hindu Council, UK
The cultural and faith co-ordinator, Sudarshan Bhatia of the HCUK joined in the Deepavali celebrations on November 20, 2004 arranged by the Thames 21—the organisation working with communities to create a clean, safe and sustainable waterside environment.
Thames 21, which removes 750 tonnes of litter from the tidal Thames each year, has been working with Clean the Ganges Project in India. The Ganges river in size is only a little more than half the Mississippi. About 300 million, almost one out of 14 persons in the world, live on the banks of Ganges river in India. There are 29 cities, 17 towns and thousands of villages along the Ganges banks. The river is moving towards destruction with pollution beyond normal levels. Ex-Mayor of Ealing, Umesh Chandra, who now runs the King Street Southall Hindu temple as chairman of the Hindu Temple Trust, has been actively involved in improving, maintaining and educating the community on achieving the objectives of the Thames 21 Project.
The Ganges, by far the most important river in India, to play an important part in practicing the Hindu life when they perform the last ritual of scattering the ashes into the holy river, of their cremated relatives, said Sudarshan Bhatia, while talking to the boat party on the importance of rivers in Hindu religion. Speaking further, he said that pollution concerns which prevented UK rivers from being used legally for the spreading of ashes before, may be overcome with the proposed fast water project at Apperley Bridge on River Aire in Bradford and which soon will become Ganges of the UK, thus allowing the Hindus to perform the last rituals of ceremonial scattering of ashes.
A neon lighted dragon profiled with the canal weeds knitted and erected on the generator deck led the Deepavali boat on a 45-minute trip through the boathouses and pubs on either sides of the canal.
The lead campaigner of Friends of Clean Ganges, UK, Roger Choate from Sweden, commended the enthusiasm of the volunteer canal-keepers and thanked the Hindu Council, UK for their support and participation.
Sudarshan Bhatia acclaimed the work of Theo Thomas who had made available the informa-tion about Thames 21 and which was printed in Hindi. The Hindi translation of the English leaflets was executed very attractively by professional translators.