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Need to update religion as per new-age realities: Ice stupa architect Sonam Wangchuk

Ice stupa architect Sonam Wangchuk feels the idea of religion needs to be updated to sync with challenges like global warming.

The Ladakhi engineer-turned-education reformer says issues like pollution need to be looked upon as a form of “violence” and called for “Religion Version 2.0” to address these forms of violence.

“This (form of) religion that we have was created to solve some problems that we had 5,000-10,000 years ago and today its a totally different situation because it doesn’t address (current challenges) and more and more young people are getting disinterested (in religion),” Wangchuk said here.

Speaking at an interactive session organised by CII Eastern Region and Young Indians (Yi) Kolkata Chapter, Wangchuk said: “These guiding philosophies need to be updated and I always half-jokingly say we have all kinds of versions in everything… How about Religion Version 2.0?”

Likening man-made environmental concerns to “violence”, the educationist flagged modern lifestyle choices that harm the environment.

“Today, we have evolved from that form of violence to another form that isn’t even considered violence.

“We look at a gun and say this is a weapon, we look at a rocket-launcher and say this is a weapon of mass destruction, but we don’t look at a car and we don’t call it a weapon of mass destruction, whereas today’s violence is caused by our lifestyle,” he explained.

“When we go in these gleaming cars, every four kilometres we are dropping a bomb of one kg of carbon dioxide and that’s what is causing the earth to warm but we don’t look at those things as violence,” he said.

Batting for a fresh perspective on religion, he said: “I feel the idea of religion needs to be updated to include these actions also. We don’t have religions that say I don’t use cars for long drives, or I don’t use lifts because that is violence.”

Wangchuk is the founding director of the Students’ Educational and Cultural Movement of Ladakh (SECMOL). He is also known for designing the SECMOL campus that runs on solar energy and uses no fossil fuels for cooking, lighting or heating.

Wangchuk’s design builds on the experimental work of fellow Ladakhi engineer Chewang Norphel, who created flat artificial glaciers.

The ice stupas freeze glacial meltwater into towering conical mounds resembling Tibetan religious stupas. These ice stupas behave like mini-glaciers, slowly releasing irrigation water for the growing season.

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