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Friends of Vrindavan (FoV) is a voluntary Seva organization founded in 1997. Its founders felt that the ecological heritage of Braj, represented by the groves, Yamuna and the Sacred Braj raj (dust) of Vrindavan was in great danger.Vrindavan was literally losing its ground to garbage, the ruthless cutting of trees, Polluting Yamuna and the dilapidated condition of the sacred ponds.
FoV dedicated to bringing about a renaissance of nature and culture in Braj Bhumi. Vrindavan is not just another town on the map. It is Krishna abode and a powerful center of spiritual energy. If here, at such a sacred place the balance of nature is under threat and the elements are poisoned, what does this signify for the well being of the rest of the planet? On the other hand, if Vrindavan woodlands and wildlife flourish again, then a message of hope will be sent to all of India and to the world.
FoV has developed a process of dialogue with the local community for a coordinated programme of action to tackle the region’s problems, including sanitation, environmental planning; restoration of cultural heritage and protection of the many sacred groves scattered throughout Braj, which are often the sole surviving remnants of the original forests of Krishna. They are also important sanctuaries for wildlife and offer water resources.
Our founders desired to serve this sacred land by taking some concrete steps, in order to protect and regenerate the original natural character of Braj - Vrindavan. FoV dedicates its services for environment, with focus on conserving the ecological and cultural heritage of the Braj region focusing on Vrindavan.
It mixes traditional methods and modern technology to sustain shared natural resources of the Divine land of Braj. The initial focus of our mission was planting trees and operating a workforce trying to keep the public areas clean of refuse through its program Swacch Vrindavan Prakalpa. Scores of Cleanliness Drives were organized in 25 years around the different temples, shrines, sacred places, streets and residential areas of Vrindavan. FoV has undertaken several innovative measures to tackle the garbage menace in Vrindavan.
We planted hundreds of trees in the parikrama, the ten kilometer pilgrim path that encircles Vrindavan. All the trees are now fully grown and benefitting the public at large with its shades. In focusing on Parikrama, FoV involved the pilgrims who walk on the path as well as the people in the ashrams and temples living in its route. Later we expanded our tree plantation initiative in the city of Vrindavan and in the neighborhood villages. Not only we planted the trees, but we fought legal battles to protect the trees from being cut on the parikrama marg and two main approach roads to Vrindavan. We have also undertaken the restoration works of the Sacred Groves and water bodies. Alongside this practical work, educating the people was made a priority, and the project began to develop new approaches to environmental education in the schools of Vrindavan.
After 25 years of Dham Seva, FoV has grown into a community enterprise, and enviro – regeneration and care based initiative, in tune with the spiritual values and the cultural tradition of Vrindavan. Our work has been recognized by the Municipal Corporation of Mathura – Vrindava, Uttar Pradesh Forestry Department, Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board and several other departments at the District level. The general Brajwasi community and the people associated with the temples always appreciated the services of ‘Friends of Vrindavan’.
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