Here is a remarkable post from my friend Bidisha Banerjee as she journeyed to the headwaters of the Ganges River, high in the Himalaya:

On July 31st, in order to form this 350 image, I carried dozens of tiny brass vessels up the Himalayan pilgrim path to the snout of the Gangotri glacier, the principal source of India’s endangered Ganges River. This place booms and thunders with the sound of the river emerging from the glacier. It is the land of blue sheep and pika; the Himalayan Monal (the inspiration for the bird Kevin in the Pixar film Up) and over one hundred other bird species also make their home here.  
Gangotri is one of the most significant places in Hindu cosmology, and, for centuries, pilgrims have used vessels like these to carry holy water back to their families, trusting that even a few drops can purify the most ignoble of sins.  
Over the last thirty five years, the Gangotri glacier has retreated at faster and faster rates. Indeed, the hunk of ice visible in this photo was one of many that slid off the glacier and rushed down the river while I watched. A UN report suggests that climate change may desiccate the Ganges by 2030, parching 500 million Indians both spiritually and physically. This is only one of the many reasons why the number 350 is so important for Indians. 
Mangal Singh, an intrepid naturalist and trekking guide, proud organic farmer, and elected village official, helped me carry the vessels up to this remote point. “It’s not just Gangotri,” Singh says; in his wanderings, he has visited some seven thousand Himalayan glaciers, all of which are shrinking year by year. Like many others in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, Singh laments the big dams that are diverting Ganges water to create more electricity to run air-conditioners in New Delhi; he wants villages to create self-sufficient micro-hydro power from mountain streams instead. Twelve years ago, Singh convinced all the farmers in his village and in the neighboring village to go organic. When he heard about the campaign for a global day of climate action, Singh said that this work is crucial for the future even if it is not universally understood at present. 

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