New Delhi, 12 June, 2016: Celebrating the six-month anniversary of the Paris Agreement on climate change, three global interfaith organizations: EcoSikh, Bhumi and Islamic Relief-India, organized a multi-faith event at Coworkin, Nehru Place in New Delhi bringing together over 75 of young & experienced environmental, spiritual leaders from diverse faiths and social sectors in solidarity with the global masses to show the compassion and unity within faith groups working on climate change and to reaffirm the commitments made by policy makers during COP21, Paris, climate declarations in December 2015, under the global campaign, ‘Sacred Earth, Sacred Trust’.
This event was one of the 150 events and actions planned in over 36 countries under the aegis of US based, GreenFaith. The event witnessed celebrations via multi-faith prayers, faiths’ declarations and a joint statement on community based climate action, reaffirming their action to keep 1.50C within reach, reduce emissions from centers of worship and an urge the Government of India to take concrete steps to address the drought issue in the country and support enhanced R & D in disaster management.
Ravneet Singh from EcoSikh recited a special prayer for peace during the event, and said “The daily Sikh prayers reminds us to serve the air as our Guru, water as the father and earth as the great mother of all. The Sikhs have always been committed to work untiringly for the well being of all life on the earth. It’s important to pause, take stock, and celebrate the progress we’ve made together in conserving our natural resources. As preachers, engineers, teachers and other professionals, we have been individually doing our bit for climate change, but it’s time to collectively — as believers — spread the message for climate change strongly.”
Avneet Kaur, representative from Basics of Sikhi, said “The Guru Granth Sahib says, Sab meh jyot, jyot hai soye. Tis de chanan sab meh chanan hoye — ‘The divine light is within everyone; it is that light which shines within everyone. It’s clear from bani (the Sikh religious scriptures) that we should respect nature and its creation.”
Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of US based GreenFaith, who is supporting these events in many countries said, “The earth is an incredible gift, and people of diverse faiths realize that it’s our shared moral responsibility to protect it”. Sacredearth2016
The Bhumi representative Pinaki Dasgupta stated, “It is high time that we come out open with our faiths as a communication medium for propagating the adversity of climate change”. Bhumi Director, Gopal Patel adds “Climate Change effects all of us, it’s therefore important that we all come together to express our love and respect for the Earth. Only through such unity we can hope to heal the world”.
Gus Speth, US advisor believed that top environmental problems were biodiversity loss, ecosystem collapse and climate change. I thought that 30 years of good science could address these problems but the top environmental problems are selfishness, greed and apathy, and to deal with these we need a cultural and spiritual transformation.” In response to that Dasgupta said, “In April this year, the names of 5,000 individuals, 270 high-level faith leaders and over 170 religious groups were handed over to the UN General Assembly president, as part of the Interfaith Climate Change Statement. Now, we need to show some action.”
Akmal Shareef, head of Islamic Relief India, says the Paris declaration on climate change is a watershed in many ways. “The role of the faith community is critical at this juncture. People from different faiths have to come together and take collective action to ensure that ill-effects of climate change on us and on future generations is minimised.” God created us in perfect harmony. It was meant to be a lovely web of codependency between plants, animals and humans, but while other species live in harmony, humans have not. No faith speaks against nature.
Navaid Hamid, President, All India Muslim Majlis-e- Mushawarat says a major portion of Prophet Muhammad’s teachings were on nature and environment. He quotes from a hadith: ‘The earth is green and beautiful, and Allah has appointed you his stewards over it.’ “The lesson we learn is that it’s the duty of every Muslim to ensure that the planet continues to be livable for future generations,” he says.
“Traditionally, the following hymn was recited before getting out of bed, but in our hurry to extract from nature, we have forgotten all good habits”, says Raghunath Prabhu, of Iskcon, Vrindavan: Samudra vasane Devi, parvata sthana mandale. Vishnupatni namastubhyam, paada sparsham kshamasva me — ‘O Mother Earth, who has the ocean as clothes and mountains and forests on her body, who is the wife of Vishnu, I bow to you. Please forgive me for touching you with my feet’.
The participants were enlightened from talks by Prof Junaid Hamid from JNU, Avneet Kaur from Basics of Sikhi, Dr. Shabana Khan, disaster management expert, Raghunath Prabhu ji from Vrindavan, Neha Upadhyay from Guna Organics, Mr. Naviad Hamid, President of the All India Muslim Majlis –e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) and Jai Kumar Gaurav, independent consultant, climate change.