There was palpable excitement among the students when they marched out of the Tarumitra Bio-reserve to meet the Chief Minister at the newly constructed Gyan Bhawan next to the sprawling Gandhi Maidan in the capital city of Patna.
It was World Environment Day! They were heading to Gyan bhawan..
Gyan Bhawan Patna (International Convention Centre), is built on the lines of Delhi’s Vigyan Bhawan. The green and quake-resistant complex, spread over 11.82 acres will be in two parts linked with a subway. Complex when completed will have several halls of different capacity including banquet hall, food courts and service area. International Convention Hall or Gyan Bhawan has a sitting capacity of 5,000, is a signature building.
They have been celebrating the World Environment Day since a week with a colorful array of programs including a few Residential camps, Road shows such as Cycle rallies, Tree plantations, Preparation of Seed bombs “beej bum” for monsoon plantations, Nursery preparations for conserving rare trees and Zumba finess sessioins to toughen the human body for summer ordeals.
Cycle rally to promote concern on air pollution and conservation of fuels: Ms Chumki das flagging off the rally from Jalalpur, Patna Chumki Das and Shashi Darshan,full time volunteer specialized in plastic surgery, cycled to co-ordinate the rally for several days. They also saw to the staging of the Street plays in Saguna More.
A Committee consisting of Devorpriya Dutta, Fr. Tony Penda SJ, Shashi Darshan, Nagesh Anand, Sarvjeet, Adarsh, Nilofer Praveen, and Praneta Rani from Champaran was active to make sure that the event took place in time.
A very specially prepared team of activists from Swabhiman, Hajipur,next district, came prepared to stage an ecological street play on the eve of the Environement day (Team with the Chairman of the Bihar Pollution Control Board, Dr. Ashok Ghosh, inside the Doordarshan studios Patna)
Pranoy IMS and Sr. Smita MMS who co-ordinated the training for the Street play were in for a surprise. The team not only presented the street play right on the street corners, they were invited by the Ntional TV Doordarshan to telecast it for the World Environment day! That was a big surprise. The subaltern group from a nondescript village of Hajipur was suddenly on the National TV!
Several groups of school students visited the Tarumitra Bio-reserve to take part in activities such as filling polybags for nurseries, to prepare “seed bombs” i.e to make mud-balls of soil with seeds of trees inside.
Several groups of students took pledge to plant and look after precious trees in their homes and neighbourhoods. (Group from Hajipur pledging)
The campers got up early morning on June 5th, they walked around the tree on naked feet, offered them arti to show reverence and Sr. Smita helped them to make the pledges to the Earth.
Nagesh Anand is a very creative volunteer who organizes Cosmic Walks for Big History Enthusiasts on Saturday evenings. Nagesh organized two cosmic walks in preparation for the World Environement day.
The Cosmic Walks are held either inside the Oxygen Bar or ourside under the trees. Nagesh takes a long stretch of clothes and arranges it into a spiral and lights up candles when he pauses the 36 Goldilocks conditions existed in the 4.5 billion year old history of the Earth. From the Big Bang to the arrival of life leading to the arrival of apes and humans, Nagesh tells the story in the form of a Meditation.
The Hajipur group got interested in many activities. Nagesh (inset) narrated the Big History of the Universe and the Earth mother to the participants from Hajipur after the sunset. Sitting under the sky, under the twinkling stars, he made sense to them with the accompanyig cosmic music he got from Dr. Orla Hazra who initiated him into the meditatives. One of the participants Balesh was of the view that the story must be retold to every village in Bihar. He found it very inspiring and liberative.
In the mean time, Chumki Das got her kids to organize street theater near Jalalpur city.
Street plays are popular ways of raising concerns on contemporary issues. Students presented several plays on the eve of the Enviornment day!
Pallavi Bishwas, an music-afficionado brought in her art students for a week long residential camp. Her husband, Pandit Avinay Kashinath and their two children both music enthusiasts stayed on to rev up the excitement.
The music and dance campers from Nrivaga helped in the plant nursery of rare plants. They filled up hundreds of poly bags to sow seeds of trees.
Dr. Anil Sulabh, noted poet joined to encourage the children to plant trees as part of the Environment Day celebrations! Debutante Kashika receiving a lemon grass plant from Dr. Sulabh. Dr. Upendranath Pandey, Mangala Singh and Shambhu Kr Singh (on the row)
It has been several years since Tarumitra realized the importance of connecting Art with the Earth. Two largescale art workshops held in the forest within a space of a decade confirmed the conclusion that Art promotes well being and integrity of the Earth and its life-giving systems.
The Nrivaga alpana “art designs” shows the intricate relationship Art has with Nature. Noted classical singer Ranjana Jha sings lullabies to the trees of the Bio-reserve whenever she visits the place! She presented a very intricate raga this time.
Last but not the least to join the campaigns were the Trangender community in the city. Reshma Prasad, a lively activist among them has been helping the students to raise ecological concerns among the bureaucrats of the Governemnt. She along with her influential transgender community is known to remove many hurdles to get ecology its prominent place among Patnaites.
Reshma Prasad (third from left)has a reputation to move mountains, joined Tarumitra students to make the celebration of World Environment Day a big event in the city. Padmashree Sr. Sudha Varghese (second from right) has been a big support for the students.
Coming back to our story of the Chief Minister passing on accolades to Tarumitra students, the big event took place on 5 June towards the afternoon. The venue was the newly constructed Gyan Bhawan the Internatonal Convention Center. Students congregated in large numbers and Devopriya and Pranoy IMS were asked to be seated next to the Chief Minister. Dr. Ashok Ghosh and his team co-ordinated the event. All of a sudden the announcement reverberated across the hall, “Tarumitra representative, please step up to receive the Citation from the Chief Minister!”
It was the turn of Devopriya Dutta to scramble up to the stage amidst deafening applause..
Devopriya in her lucky red kurti climbed up the stage to receive the Citation from the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar who is flanked by his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi. Balram sir (DAV BSEB), Dr Ashok Gosh are on the left.
While handing over the plaque, the Chief Minister commented, “Tarumitras are the ones who are protecting the environment!” That was a big positive stroke from the Chief Minister!
“While we appreciate the effort of Dr. Ashok Ghosh to get the official recognition of the transformative role played by the students of the schools and colleges, we are sure that we have miles to go before we can sleep or take rest!” said Devopriya Dutta.
The Citation reads, “We felicitate the Tarumitra students for their contribution to make enviornmental concerns especially concerns regarding Bio-diversity among the people!”
Speaking to the Media, Fr. Robert Athickal SJ commented that Tarumitra was convinced that they were on the right track to push the agenda of Bio-diversity to the forefront of their campaigns.
Perhaps the cherry on the cake was a full page coverage of Tarumitra students by one of the leading newspapers, Prabhat Khabar with a special supplement.