Leh, Ladakh, 31st August, 2016 – The second day of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) India, in association with UNICEF India, Summit in Ladakh brought together GIWA’s Co-Founder, HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Hon’ble Science and Technology Minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan, as well as spiritual heads from major religions of India- including Giani Gurbachan Singh Chief Jathedar of the Akal Takht, Maulana Dr Syed Kalbe Sadiq Shia Leader from Lucknow, Maulana Luqman Tarapuri Sunni Leader of the Global Imam Council, Mahamandaleshwar Swami Harichetanand, Venerable Bhikkhu Sangasena Buddhist spiritual leader- President of the Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre, members of UNICEF and many others (please see the list below) at the Mahabodhi International Meditation Centre to inaugurate a special Interfaith Peace Garden and ceremoniously perform the ground breaking of a toilet structure near the centre’s Meditation Hall, which previously lacked accessibility to adequate sanitation facilities.
At the ground-breaking, HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati said, “This toilet structure symbolizes the coming together of Meditation and Sanitation, which is the need of the hour. No longer can our worship and our prayers be only in our places of worship, it is time that the come out to the streets and reach out to the people. Our visit to Ladakh has truly been a historic beginning, a unique confluence of science and spirituality, technology and tradition and this sangam will expand the mission of Swachh Bharat to reach every corner of the nation, including often inaccessible regions such as Ladakh.”
Thereafter, the delegation visited various places of worship, including the Ladakh Buddhist Association Monastery, Dantun Sahib Gurudwara, the Moravian Church, Masjid Sharif, Imam Bara, Krishna Temple, where they met and interacted with local faith leaders and faith communities. They took part in a beautiful March for Unity, WASH and Peace, which illustrated the great commitment of GIWA’s faith leaders to bring about a sanitation revolution in India by engaging and inspiring people of all faiths through their faith leaders.
The Summit concluded with a historic pledge and water blessing ceremony on the banks of the Sindhu River, at the Sindhu Darshan Ghat,in Leh-Ladakh.GIWA’s leaders representing India’s diverse faith traditions gathered together to offer the water of the river onto the globe as a symbol and a prayer that all of humanity should have access to safe and sufficient water, sanitation and hygiene.
Hon’ble Dr Harsh Vardhan addressed and concluded the two day summit by saying, “It is so wonderful to see such commitment of our interfaith leaders of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance take this message of Swachhta to every street corner, every place of worship, reaching out to as many communities and in as many ways as possible in their two day visit. I am certain that with this type of motivation and commitment Swachh Bharat will soon be accomplished and the vision and the mission of our Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji to have India rise as a world leader will come to fruition.”
He also lauded UNICEF, the corporate and media stakeholders who had joined in the two day summit for their commitment and dedication and said that with their collective involvement with the faith leaders nothing could be impossible.
One of the GIWA leaders, Ven Bhikkhu Sanghasena added that the Summit has put a spotlight on the more critical issues ailing Ladakh, and the awareness generated through the GIWA platform moving forward would be catalytic. “This coming together of political leaders and religious leaders, speaking in one voice, for the cause of Swachhta, is unprecedented.”
Co-founder of GIWA, Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati in his concluding speech said, “At the beginning of this journey we had asked ourselves why WASH? Over the past two days of deliberation, its importance has been understood by all. Today, in Ladakh, we take a pledge of ‘Ekta’ or oneness - without boundaries of caste, creed and religion – that we will all work together to ensure the problems related to sanitation in Ladakh and the country are solved. That is our mission, message and take away from this momentous gathering.”
GIWA’s Interfaith leaders presented the National Ganga Rights Act to the Hon’ble Minister and called to pass a comprehensive legislation, like the draft presented to him, to protect the river and her tributaries from over-extraction and over-exploitation. They also shared three point recommendations, which local stakeholders had shared with them, to help improve the lives of local Ladakhis as well as facilitate sustainable tourism and development of the region.
Please find a list of some of the prominent leaders present at the event:
1. Hon’ble Union Minister of Science and Technology Dr. Harsh Vardhan
2. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, Co-Founder, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, President, Parmarth Niketan (Rishikesh)
3. Sant Giani Gurubachan Singh, Chief Jathedar of Akal Takht (The
4. Maulana Kalbe Sadiq Saheb, Founder of Tauheedul Muslimeen Trust,
Islamic scholar (Shia Leader)
5. Maulana Imam Luqman Tarapuri, Global Imam Council, India (Sunni Leader)
6. Bhaisahib Satpal Singh Khalsa, Ambassador of Sikh Dharma (Religion)
7. Pujya Mahamandeleshwar Swami Harichetanand, Haridwar
8. Mushahid Khan, Chairman and Founder of International Islamic Sufi Foundation
9. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Secretary- General, Global Interfaith
WASH Alliance, President, Divine Shakti Foundation
10. Dr HR Nagendra, Vice Chancellor VYASA
11. Ven Bhikkhu Sanghasena, Founder-President Mahabodhi
International Meditation Centre
12. Shri Paramjit Singh Chandhok, Chairman of DSGMC
13. Swamini Adityananda Saraswati, Director of Programmes,
Partnerships & Policy, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance
14. Dr Binny Sareen, Brahmakumaris, Mt Abu
15. Swami Jayant, Art of Living, Bangalore
16. Shri Tsering Dorjay, Hon’ble Minister of State of Cooperative and
MoS Ladakh Affairs
17. Manish Wasuja, WASH Specialist, UNICEF- India
18. Sheikh Saif-ud Din, President of Maoin-ul Islam
19. Shri Ashraf Ali, President of Anjuman Immammia
20. Shri Nawang Rigzen Jora, MLA
21. Murup Dolma, President of Ladakhi Women’s Alliance
22. and many other interfaith leaders, members of UNICEF, corporate
heads and many other international and national NGOs, business leaders
and prominent media personalities
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About the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA): With its Secretariat in Rishikesh, the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance (GIWA) was launched in collaboration with UNICEF at UNICEF World Headquarters under the sponsorship of USAID and the Government of the Netherlands. It is the world’s first initiative that is engaging the planet’s many faiths as allies to create a world where everyone, everywhere has access to healthy, sustainable Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH). To learn more, visit . Follow GIWA on and
For more information about this press release, please contact:
Nandini Tripathi, Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, Mobile +91-7579029225, email: