Respect and reverence for nature underlies many Hindu practices and rituals. Yet, many Hindu places of worship face huge environmental problems.
Hindu texts and scriptures are full of references to the worship of the divine in nature. And they continue to be relevant today. Millions of Hindus recite Sanskrit mantras daily that revere their rivers, mountains, trees and animals. Many also follow, for religious reasons, a vegetarian diet and oppose the institutionalized killing of animals for human consumption. The Earth, depicted as a Goddess or “Devi”, is worshipped in many Hindu rituals. For instance, before the foundation of a building is dug, a priest is invited to perform the “Bhoomi (earth) Pooja” to seek forgiveness from mother earth for violating her. To many Hindus, the concept of environmental protection is not separate from religious teaching. That’s seen in several local practices among rural Hindu communities such as the Bishnois and the Bhils to protect forests and water sources. Despite the deep-rooted reverence for nature in Hinduism, there’s no disputing that many Hindu places of worship – from pilgrimage sites high up in the Himalayas to the Ganges river system – face major environmental challenges.