Wednesday, November 04, 2009

GenNext gung-ho about Girnar Parikrama

GenNext gung-ho about Girnar Parikrama
Times of India By Kulsum Yusuf
Print Edition

Looks like GenNext is making its presence felt at the Girnar Parikrama. The profile of devotees who are undertaking the annual pilgrimage, that officially began on Thursday, shows that several youngsters are joining in.

Thousands of devotees landed in Junagadh from where the parikrama begins. Earlier, when one visited Girnar Taleti area, one would see people above 50 years. But now, the scenario has changed. Of the 6 to 7 lakh visitors, 40 per cent are in the 18 to 35 age group.

Though it's mainly undertaken for religious or spiritual purpose, now collegians and environmental activists come in groups to enjoy nature in the lap of Mount Girnar.

"We are seeing a new trend. Earlier, only elderly people used to come for the pilgrimage. But, now more and more youngsters are joining it. The best part is that they're aware about environment protection, water conservation and importance of saving forests," said Junagadh district collector Ashwani Kumar. "For me its not only a spiritual journey but also and adventure to hike more than 30 km in the jungle in the company of so many people," says Heena Prajapati, mother of two who belongs to Rajkot.

She says with limited finances it has not been possible for her to plan a nature trail. Her cousin Leela came up with this idea. "We have come with in-laws and are having a great time. Next time, I plan to bring my elder son too," says an upbeat Heena.

College students Deep Malya and Vaibhav Khavnekar reached Junagadh on Thursday evening with their group. They're mixing business with pleasure. Their group 'Nature Lovers' will join the pilgrims and educate them about the forest and trees.

Nilesh Vekariya, who works in a finance company in Mumbai, is here for the sixth time. "I find peace here far from life in a metro," he says. As for Altaf Junach, he and his friends are volunteers in a community kitchen near Jina Bava ni Madhi area. There are around 100 such kitchens on the way which provide free food for pilgrims. Neha from Jamnagar has joined her grandparents in the parikrama. "For me, it's a totally different experience as I'm able to mingle with people from all over the country. I feel closer to nature."

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