March 25, 2014; Thousands of Sikhs all across the world took concrete green actions by celebrating the Sikh Environment Day on March 14. Over 2000 Sikh Gurdwaras, Schools and organisations marked this day when Guru Har Rai, known for his deep love and sensitivity towards nature and its preservation, became the seventh Sikh Guru in 1644.
Washington based EcoSikh had launched this initiative to dedicate March 14 as Sikh Environment Day four years ago.
Ravneet Singh, Ludhiana based India Project Manager of EcoSikh said, ” Organizations from India, Nepal, Canada, Dubai, Norway, Sweden, UK, France, USA, Jakarta, Indonesia, Malaysia, Ghana held special service which included Gurbani recitals on the theme of nature, organized herbal plants and flower shows along with painting competitions and poster exhibitions in the Gurdwara premises.
Nature focused green celebrations continued this weekend in many areas of Punjab and other parts of India and all over. Universities and colleges in Punjab held seminars, plantation drives and bicycle rallies engaging Punjab youth creating long term constructive plans for tackling the degradation of environment in the state.
President of EcoSikh, Dr. Rajwant Singh, said, “It is a sheer pride to announce that Sikhs are the only faith community which has been celebrating their own environment day. Sikhs have created history by simultaneously taking a mass global action in favour of Mother Earth as envisioned by the Sikh Gurus. We hope that this will continue to inspire future generations to become environmentally conscious and be aware of this critical issue of our times. We simply cannot afford to let land, water and air, continue to deteriorate when so much reverence is placed in the Sikh theology on these God given natural resources.”
According to Ravneet Singh, “The excitement this year has grown many folds; Gurdwara organisations have been even more creative by having flower shows; distributing bird houses, seed and plant saplings, plantations in Gurdwaras premises and increasing green patches in areas around, and creating productive green plans for upcoming festivals and religious processions and marches.”
Under the directive of Avtar Singh Makkar, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC), the apex body based in Amritsar, organized plantation drives in 145 Gurdwaras across Punjab and Haryana and Mumbai with special awareness programmes in educational institutions run under SGPC. Prominent environmentalists Baba Sewa Singh and Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal ran plantation drives and educational initiatives in their respective areas and directed the villages around for environment preservation.
Over 900 Khalsa schools in Punjab under SGPC, Chief KhalsaDiwan, Guru Nanak Multiversity, Satnam Sarab Kalyan Trust, Ajnala Sewa Trust and Khalsa Institutions Amritsar, and private institutions conducted environment rallies, eco-prayers and inspirational movies sessions to spread the word about saving the planet.
Dr. Singh further stated, “We congratulate youth groups in Bangalore, Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Washington, Oslo, and other parts of the world who enthusiastically mobilized the local communities at Gurdwaras and Schools and we are heartened by their commitment to come forward and take the leadership role to saving the planet. It is commendable that many Gurdwaras in the west are switching to steel cutlery and giving up Styrofoam which is an environment hazard.”
Sikh spiritual leadership also took action. Giani Gurbachan Singh of Sri Akal Takhat planted Juju (Beri) trees in collaboration with Eco-Amritsar at historical house of literary giant, Bhai Vir Singh in Amritsar.
In addition, Jathedar Giani Mull Singh planted cinnamon trees at the 350 years old Naulakha Garden at the birth place of Guru Har Rai ji in Kiratpur Sahib. These events were specially attended by Victoria Finlay, a representative of UK based Alliance of Religions and Conservation, an organization headed by Prince Philip. The revival of this historical garden, originally planted by the 7th Sikh Guru, is being coordinated by Sri Ganga Nursery of Zirakpur.
A historical Gurdwara in Patto Hira Singh village near Moga also launched a massive landscape plan of 11 Acre nature park featuring trees mentioned in Sikh scriptures, Guru Granth Sahib; a water body with water animals and birds; and other features like organic kitchen garden, solar lighting, composting pits, bird houses and a lengthy walking route within the park.
According to Ravneet Singh, many social media outlets like FaceBook, Whatsapp, YouTube along with TV and print media played a major role in spreading the word about the significance of this day which helped engaging lot more people than previous years.
A group of NGO’s also submitted a memorandum to Sri Akal Takhat on March 14 against the GM food crops requesting the takhat to take lead on saving the native desiseeds for Punjabi farmers.