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Ladakhis Created Guinness World Record

Changa Village (near Hemis), Ladakh, 10th October 2010 (10.10.10) at 10:10:10: - 10.10.10 or 10th October 2010, a day occuring once in every thousand year, was a day to remember by most Ladakhis and the international volunteers. A Guinness World Record (GWR) for "Most Trees Planted Simultaneously" was broken or rather, a new record was set! The feat was achieved in half the stipulated time by 9,313 people who came from villages across Ladakh, and different religious and cultural backgrounds. We broke the record set in Peru earlier this year, where 27,166 saplings had been planted by 8,000 participants in an hour.

Ladakh willow, a local species, was planted during the drive. This plantation exercise was a part of initiative to conserve the environment in this particular Himalayan region and is in synchrony with various other environmental initiatives undertaken by Live To Love and Drukpa Lineage in the recent past.

Commenting on the momentous occasion, His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa, spiritual head of Drukpa Lineage and founder of the Live to Love humanitarian initiatives, “Today is a historic day for all of us, especially for the people of Ladakh and India. Our efforts have always been focused to conserve the environment of the Himalayas and an attempt to strike a green balance in the most difficult terrains in the Himalayas. I urge that this drive along with the people of Leh will spur several such initiatives and will pray for a cleaner, greener India.”

Guinness World Records' Tarika Vara said the turnout at the event was truly encouraging. "I have never seen anything like this before. The people were full-heartedly involved in the attempt and their enthusiasm was something that I have never encountered," she said.

We arrived at the site at around 7:30am with the GWR adjudicator, with the expectation to meet only a few buses of people, but what greeted our sight were thousands of people in the custom designed "Live to Love-Commonwealth Games-Guinness World Record" T-Shirt already queueing up to enter the site in an orderly manner. By 9:00am, there were signs of panic, because we were running out of planting space. We had close to 9,000 people and thousands were still queueing. We had to block the gate by 9:30am, stopping more than 3,000 people and disqualified participants, such as those below age of 19, to enter the plantation site. Altogether only 176 planting plots were available, and under the rules and regulations set by Guinness World Records, only 50 participants were permitted for each plot, and each plot had to be monitored by one supervisor.

It was amazing to see all faces with big smiles, confident of breaking the GWR record and setting a new one. At 9:45am, His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa arrrived at the site with an entourage of army and police officers, who were guarding his safety. The thousands of crowd who were refused entry greeted His Holiness with big smiles and the lucky ones who managed to enter the site gave much bigger smiles. When some of us were helping to block the overwhelming number of people at one of the entrance gates as we ran out of plots to plant trees, many were in tears, urging us to let them enter so that they could be a part of this historic endeavor. Unfortunately, we could not do anything due to the GWR rules and regulations which forbid any plot to have more than 50 participants.

At 10:05am, His Holiness requested everyone on the site as well as the spectators to stand up and sing the National Anthem of India. At exactly, 10:10:10, His Holiness flagged off the GWR tree planting exercise jointly with the local government representatives on a temporary platform erected at the site. On the ground, the minute the flag off took place, no one was free to do anything except digging, planting and filling up the hole with soil. In 10 minutes, supervisor of the first group rushed to the platform to present the completed results. In the next 23 minutes, all 176 supervisors had submitted their results of completion. We ran out of space to continue planting and had to stop at 10:43:25. By which time, we all knew we broke the GWR set by Peru!

Smiles were found on all of the faces. The photos tell better than words. For more photos other than the ones posted here, please visit the photo album in Drukpa Facebook.

Tree planting initiative that brought everyone from different religious and cultural backgrounds together

His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa spearheaded this Green Initiative

Flagging off, after the national anthem

The care and concern for a greener earth have no religious and cultural barriers

Many young people took part in the plantation drive

Planting started!

His Holiness looked from the temporary platform

Hong Kong celebrity, Kenny Bee, and his wife, participated too!

Supervisors running to the reporting center to submit counts and reports

Victorious smiles!

Counting began

His Holiness with Mr. Jigmet Takpa, the main person in charge of environment and wildlife in Ladakh

His Holiness being interviewed by media

Loud cheers were everywhere when the Guinness World Records representative announced the successful attempt!

His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa was presented with the GWR certificate

Proud participants of the GWR breaking attempt

Dr. Balaji from the Department of Forestry and Tarika Vara from the GWR organization

Dorjey Kaya, Sonam Angdus, Tsewang Namgyal and Gen Jinba from the Young Drukpa Assocation (YDA)