“Offerings to the Hindu Gods End Up as Jamaica Bay Trash” (front page, April 22) could have presented a broader context to the causes of pollution in Jamaica Bay.
According to a 2007 report by the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the health of Jamaica Bay has been threatened for decades. Excessive dredging, millions of gallons of waste and untreated storm water, sewer overflow, wind-blown trash, soot and chemicals from transportation, and large-scale development are the real causes of pollution — not just the occasional ritual offerings of devout Hindus.
John Zuzworsky, a former park ranger who was quoted in the article, is correct that “a lot of the Hindu traditions are based in respecting the earth.” Thus, Hindu New Yorkers share both a civic and a dharmic duty to keep the water and wildlife of the bay safe and clean.
Rituals are central to Hindu practice but are often reinterpreted to comport with environmental realities. The beauty of Hinduism lies in its adaptability to time and place without compromising its eternal truths.
SUHAG A. SHUKLA
Kensington, Md., April 22, 2011
The writer is managing director and legal counsel of the Hindu American Foundation.