By Nils Ally (Personal trip in 2010) [GFDL or CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

After environmental concerns in Jamaica Bay after pollution from religious rituals, Hindu groups are promoting awareness of the environmental harm being caused and looking for ways to modernize rituals.

There are a group of Hindus in New York who have found Jamaica Bay, in Queens, to be a perfect place to conduct rituals. These practices involve throwing offerings into the water which could be anything from food to statues or fabric. Many environmentalists in the area are concerned about the debris from the beach that is getting into the bay. There is a group called Sadhana, who is working to try and bridge the gap on both sides and conduct clean ups. The group is working with fellow Hindus to clean up the beaches and come up with plans to modernize religious traditions in respect for the environment.

Many beachgoers come to the beach to worship the sun, others come to worship the gods of their home land. There are many pilgrims that also come to the beach and they offer flowers, coconuts, and other offerings to respect nature and to worship their gods.

There are many things that are left over from the rituals that wash up on the shore and this has caused a problem between the worshipers and those who work to keep the bay safe. Both sides of this discussion hope that they are able to bring this to a peaceful conclusion and want to find a way to be able to discuss the situation.

Many people recognize that it is important to try and be responsible, this has meant that there has been come clean up and that others are continuing to help the situation. It is important however for there to be more cooperation and cleaning. They say that it takes millions in order to be able to restore these issues and that means that you have to have a group that understands that the area needs to be handled with care. People need to know that they are causing huge damage by not taking care of the area properly. This means that it is a delicate balance between respect and also the group who is working in the river. This means that there needs to be a conversation that is seen by all people as a solution.

Filmmaker Dan Hendrick made a short documentary to build awareness called The Divine Waters of Jamaica Bay.

The diversity according to Hendrick is not limited to the animals and plants but also to the people. He hopes that through the use of the film, it will be possible to bridge all parties and see a rise in education as well as in knowledge about the Bay. This means that it is then possible for the groups to come together and find a way forward that will help all parties resolve their current issues and have a cleaner and safer environment.

It is easy to see why the beach is the perfect location for rituals with its natural beauty, however, a part of these rituals needs to be the preservation of the area which will be something that these groups will be working together on over the course of the next few months and raising awareness as a group.


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