THE CROAK is a weekly environmental newsletter put out by the eCoexist team. It is the voice of the environment on its last legs, the final croak that can either be a plea for attention or a call of triumph as the frogs jump out of the well of ignorance and denial.
Can Sustainability be part of the discourse in Religious Studies? Apparently it can. 

Prof Mark McLaughlin, Senior Lecturer of South Asian Religions
Department of Religious Studies at the College of William and Mary in Virginia brought with him nine students to India this month to study Religion, Space and Sustainability. eCoexist was honoured to be part of the course, held in Goa, leading discussions on work with religious beliefs and festivals.

Here is a summary of the course and what they covered:
22 June 2019, The Goan Today
The program began with ten days at the National Law School of India University in Bangalore, where, alongside Indian law students, students looked at public policy in relation to both marginalized communities and sustainability. Structured lectures and panel discussions were augmented with experiential site visits. During this phase, students met with renowned water activist, Vishwanath Srikantaiah at one of the city’s many lakes, where he took them on a walk explaining the complicated and ongoing negotiations and actions required for water conservation. Another experiential engagement included a visit to the Aravani Art Project (, where students paired with trans-gender women to draw portraits of each other and talk.

Students also meet with 35 bonded laborers to hear firsthand of their experiences. The visit was punctuated by the power expressed when the laborers sang for the students. Though the students could not understand the language, all of them were moved, many to tears, by the emotional weight carried in the voices of those who had suffered so much.
The program then moved to the International Center Goa, where students participate in two classes. One, a course taught by Professor Vishvesh Kandolkar of the Goa College of Architecture, was on Goan architecture and its reflection of/relationship to social, political, and cultural identity of Goa and its appropriation in the colonial, modern, and post-modern eras. The course intermixed lectures and class discussion with field visits to local sites such as Mapusa Market, Old Goa, Divar Island, and Panjim. The other course was taught by the director of the program, Professor Mark McLaughlin, Senior Lecturer of South Asian Religions at the College of William & Mary. This course charted the historical and philosophical development of Hindu and Buddhist meditation/yoga traditions and the ramifications of the subsequent globalization and biomedicalization of their practices.

Students were introduced to secularized evidenced-based meditation practices with the option of attending daily morning meditations on site at the ICG. Students participated in overnight excursions to the medieval temple compounds of the Badami Caves, Pattadakal, and Hampi, where they engaged in an exploration of the ramifications of modern conservation practices on the intimate and tactile ritual practices of the Hindu temple tradition.

During this last week, the discussions on architecture and sustainability dovetailed with a visit to Mozaic, the architecture studio of Dean D’Cruz where the students participated in roundtable discussions on the state of the sustainability movement and how to create collaborative spaces to support each other moving forward. 
Students in discussion with Arch. Dean Cruz at Mosaic, Goa
On Festivals and Sustainability
The program finished up this week with considerations of environmentally sustainable solutions for the Hindu religious festivals of Ganesh Chaturthi and Holi. This portion of the course was facilitated by Manisha Gutman, environmentalist and founder of Ecoexist, a company which empowers marginalized communities by teaching them to create environmentally sustainable products for religious festivals, such as biodegradable murtis and natural Holi powder. 
The discussions were focussed on the need to make religious beliefs more conscious of environmental impacts, to explore the possibilities of shifting to natural materials and to make festivals more inclusive of vulnerable communities. The students visited a clay sculptor community, KumbharWada, and watched firsthand the process of making an idol. They also had the opportunity to play a natural Holi and experience the joy it evokes. 
The Croak is a weekly environmental newsletter put out by the eCoexist team. It is the voice of the environment on its last legs, the final croak that can either be a plea for attention or a call of triumph as the frogs jump out of the well of ignorance and denial. Satirical, urgent and wise the newsletter brings to your attention, topics of global environmental relevance as well as emerging encouraging alternatives. Put together by a team of passionate Nature lovers, The Croak hopes to look at the environmental crisis in its face. It is a tool to reconnect readers to Nature, through questioning and self reflection. To understand the outer environment as a reflection of our own inner state, individually and as a species. And to take responsibility for enabling change.
If you would like to contribute articles on ecology consciousness and sustainability please get in touch with us.
Use the PayTM QR code on the right to send us a donation today. The eCoexist Foundation is a not for profit Section 25 company registered in Pune.
Please send us an email with your details at [email protected] once you have made the payment so we can send you a receipt. Currently we take donations from India only. We thank you sincerely!