British Hindus embrace Queen’s Green Canopy project

British Hindus embrace Queen’s Green Canopy project

The Queen's Green Canopy (QGC) is a unique tree planting initiative created to mark Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee in 2022, which invites people from across the UK to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee”.

The concept is aimed at galvanising communities and individuals, schools and corporates around this year’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations and honouring the 95-year-old monarch’s 70 years of public service in a sustainable way – by planting trees.

Over the weekend, British Hindu groups were at the forefront of this noble mission, with the Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh (HSS) UK and the Shree Swaminarayan Temple in London among those organising some moving tree planting ceremonies.

HSS UK volunteers in Barnet participated in a joyful, colourful Queen's Green Canopy tree planting 'The Hindu Way', worshipping Mother Nature at an event attended by local MP Theresa Villiers.

HSS UK, a proud recipient of 15 saplings from the Queen's Green Canopy Project initiative, performed the planting at Whalebone Park in Barnet.

Welcoming the guests, Vishal Shah of HSS UK said: “On the auspicious day of Varsh Pratipada,Gudi Padwa and the first day of Chaitra Navratri, it is a privilege to participate in the Queen's Green Canopy project and Her Majesty's Platinum Jubilee celebrations marking her 70 years of service to the country and Commonwealth, from which we all take inspiration.

“Planting a tree is a wonderful way of leaving a lasting legacy for future generations to enjoy.”

A colourful Hindu tree planting ceremony on a chilly but bright spring day commenced with offering thanks to Bhumi Maata (Mother Earth) by adorning the soil with kanku (coloured powder) and Akshat (rice) while chanting Hindu Vedic mantra 'Om Bhuvaneshehvariye namaha' followed by planting of the saplings by Veer Sumaria, Sujal Depala and Villiers.

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“The participation of HSS UK in the sewa (volunteer service) projects during the Covid-19 pandemic was exemplary and today, HSS UK’s participation in the Queen’s Green Canopy Project demonstrates the high regard the Hindu community has for the Queen’s life of service,” said Villiers.

Uniquely, the first watering of the saplings by all attendees during the ceremony was with waters from the River Ganges and River Thames; a symbolic gesture of the special relationship between India and the UK. An auspicious nadachadi (coloured thread) tying ceremony of the sapling denoted the appreciation in Hindu philosophy for trees and vanaspati (plants and trees).

Official Queen's Green Canopy and Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh UK commemorative plaques were installed as a permanent reminder of the celebration. The Shanti Mantra for peace was chanted in conclusion signifying the wish for peace for all beings, all elements and offering reverence to Mother Nature.

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Dr Harsha Jani of HSS UK said: "During the Covid, it was in the media about communities participating in Queen’s green canopy project. I thought, well, then why not the Hindus! Because this is part of our religion and tradition, it's part of our samskara. It is the ethos of the Hindus also.

“So I said, well, let me try and register our organisation and put in a proposal for organisations to participate in this, and I never thought we'd be successful in actually being presented with 15 saplings from the Woodland Trust."

A young Swayamsevak, Dhaval Depala, reflected on how the ceremony helped him learn more about “our Hindu ways of respecting nature and what the Queen’s Green Canopy Project is doing for our future on this planet”.

HSS UK is a Charity with 102 chapters in the UK, with over 2,000 attendees participating in weekly activities which places emphasis on Hindu values of sanskār (nurturing good values to develop virtuous character), sewā (selfless service) and sangathan (bringing people together), which together instils responsible citizenship and community cohesion.

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The Shree Swaminarayan Temple in London’s Stanmore organised a tree planting day on April 3. It had received 345 saplings courtesy of the Woodland Trust, many of which were planted after a morning aarti.

“We are also taking this opportunity to celebrate the recent Parva Utsav, which celebrated the 200 years of the first Shree Swaminarayan Temple in the world, built in Ahmedabad. This was built on land given by the British government at the time,” the temple said.

“We will also be planting trees in memory of all the departed souls which left us during the Covid-19 pandemic and the conflicts around the world, including the most recent tragedy in Ukraine,” it added.

Conservative Party Councillor Nitesh Hirani for Kenton East was among those who took to social media to reflect on their honour at being part of the special ceremony.

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