The MyTree initiative by Sri M seeks to fulfill Manav Ekta Mission’s aim of promoting sustainable living by encouraging planting of trees. MyTree is inspired by the Sanskrit word – Maitri – meaning amity. This initiative promotes Manav Ekta (oneness of humanity) by encouraging an individual/community-led partnership to plant trees—a human alliance that ensures a sustainable relationship with nature.
MyTree Maharashtra was launched on 27 August 2016 at a simple ceremony held at Maharashtra Nature Park (MNP), Sion, Mumbai. The Mumbai Satsangis selected Maharashtra Nature Park to implement the project. The Deputy Director of the Park, Dr Avinash Kubal is the spirit behind transforming a dump yard into this flourishing biodiversity Park.
Maharashtra Nature Park was conceived by the WWF-India in the late 1970s, an area of about 37 acres in the “H” Block of Bandra-Kurla Complex, which was earlier a garbage dump or land fill, was decided to be ecologically restored and developed as a Nature Park by MMRDA. Located on Bandra-Sion Link Road and on the Southern bank of Mithi River, this mini-forest is nothing short of a miracle. Apart from being a vital green lung for pollution-ridden Mumbai, the MNP also offers Mumbai’s citizenry a welcome change from the din and hustle of city life.
Since education is one of the primary concerns of The Satsang Foundation, all its initiatives involve students – the future of humanity. The Satsangis took the initiative to communicate with school authorities, to underline the significance of such initiatives and invite the students to be part of this initiative. The NSS school band welcomed Sri M, which was followed by the traditional Aarti ceremony. The atmosphere was one of enthusiasm and solemnity as melodious bhajans accompanied the lighting of the ceremonial lamp by Sri M and Mr Avinash Kubal, Dy Director, MNP Society. A documentary on The Walk of Hope was screened thereafter.
“The act of planting a tree and taking care of its growth establishes an inner connection with nature. Understanding this inner connection results in our personal growth.” – Sri M
Sri M and Mr Avinash Kubal together planted the Banyan tree, amidst chanting of shlokas and a melodious flute recital. A modern-day bard distributed copies of ‘Yoga Chalisa’, and he sang likening the saplings to young brides, who require nurturing initially and then grow into mighty, shady trees as the years go by. Student representatives, Satsangis, and invitees including celebrities Ms.Supriya Pilgaonkar and Ms. Meghna Manzrekar planted 20 trees and 100 saplings – Tulsi plants and few Parijataka saplings – were given to the guests for planting in their own gardens. MNP has promised that a dedicated area will be allocated for MyTree initiative.
A unique feature was a Painting Exhibition ‘Nature and Divinity’ organized by the Satsangis in the Activity Hall of the Park. 19 students in the age group 7 to 18, led by a Satsangi teacher, displayed 21 beautiful paintings depicting nature and divinity with suitable quotations. All present appreciated the effort and noted how a teacher can sensitize and educate the students through such activities.
In his benedictory address, Sri M explained the concept and necessity of tree planting to the students. He expressed distress at the state of the ecosystem today. He took an example of Meetha River that once flowed close to Maharashtra Nature Park. During this visit, he was taken to the site of what was once a river, that is now choked with filth and factory waste. While addressing the students, he paused in between to say that he ‘sees” the same river flowing again in ten years time.