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Guru Har Rai Sahib established 52 gardens in his lifetime.

Some of the many highlights of Sikh Environment Day

On March 14th, Sikhs celebrated the second Sikh Environment Day (Sikh Vatavaran Diwas) with the incredible number of more than 1,000 institutions participating – more than double the participation recorded in the first Sikh Environment Day in 2011. From Gurdwaras to businesses, schools to families, this year’s celebrations were the biggest yet, with tree plantings, cleanups, and solar installations, and kirtan and katha focused on the environment. To the thousand and more institutions, businesses, groups and supporters from the media that participated on this day, thank you for your leadership, commitment, and strength.

Here are just some highlights from the events that swept the globe: for the timeline, including all the events we knew about, please link here. A full report will be published in May of what happened and how we all did it.

Akhal Takht –– Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh issued a statement calling all Sikhs to celebrate Vatavaran Diwas on the Gurgaddi Diwas of Guru Har Rai Ji by reducing the use of plastics in Gurdwaras and homes cleaning their surroundings. The statement endorsed the work of Sikhs across the world, and is available in both Punjabi and English 

Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib –– Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib under the leadership of Jathedar Tarlochan Singh sent a message to gurdwaras throughout Punjab, citing concern over ‘unchecked development, deforestation, damage of mountain areas, and intensive agriculture.’ The Jathedar encouraged Sikhs around the world to follow the path of their Gurus in conserving Mother Nature and to plant a tree on this day in memory of Guru Har Rai Sahib.

Takht Sri Hazur Sahib –– Takht Sri Hazur Sahib celebrated Vatavaran Diwas again this year with a nature march, a plant distribution at Nanded, and a new garden at Gurdwara Shikar Ghat Sahib. The Takht will involve the community to plant trees in honor of Guru Har Rai Sahib Ji.

SGPC –– The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the main governing body of the Sikhs, held celebrations in 78 Gurdwaras, 11 colleges, 31 Khalsa schools and 12 Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) schools, planting fifty trees at each location. A total of 7,250 new trees were officially planted during the celebrations, superceding all expectations.

Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee –– The DSGMC celebrated the day in 16 of the major Delhi Gurdwaras. Under the management of President Paramjit Singh Sarna pledged that Delhi Gurdwaras will be leaders in green places of worship, with plans to introduce solar power, ban plastic disposables, and plants trees on premises. In addition, 19,000 students at 12 DSGMC schools were encouraged to protect nature, recite kirtan on the environment, and conserve water.

Punjab Schools –– Sukrit Trust and EcoSikh released a booklet for primary and secondary schoolchildren throughout Punjab, issuing a pledge to plant a tree this year, conserve water, and clean their surroundings. To download this book click here. To learn more, click here.

Gurdwara Behala, Kolkata –– Gurdwara Behala in Kolkata has organised a katha session by the famous Sikh teacher Giani Pinder Pal Singh Ji, in their main hall. Giani Pinder Pal Singh Ji led an inspiring lecture at the Gurdwara that was scheduled to be broadcasted over the Punjab Television Channel. The talk focused on three main areas: the life of Guru Har Rai Ji and his passion for environment; how Gurbani can inspire us to preserve nature; and how Sikhs can contribute in saving Mata Dharat for future generations.

Nankana Sahib and Karachi, Pakistan –– Celebrations in Pakistan commenced at Nankana Sahib, the birth place of our beloved Guru Nanak. According to President of the Pakistan Sikh Council, Ramesh Singh, Sikhs and followers of many other religions, especially Sindhis and Muslims gathered at Nankana Sahib Gurdwara. The communities together raised a new orchid garden with 101 fruit bearing plants, at Nankana Sahib Gurdwara Janam Asthan in the memory of a Muslim Saint, Pir Buddhu Shah who was very close to the tenth Master, Guru Gobind Singh. The Gurdwara committee uploaded a touching video on YouTube. The additional touch in the video is to see how men and women from different faiths get together and celebrate Sikh Environment Day, 2012.

Similar inter-faith celebrations were also observed in Karachi where faith and government leaders from Hindu, Christians, Sikh and Muslim communities all vowed to plant a tree in their neighborhood and keep their streets and localities clean. Read the full article in The Express Tribune.

Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, Canada –– In British Columbia, the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara, one of the largest Gurdwaras in the greater British Columbia region organized largescale celebrations around Sikh Vatavaran Diwas. This included a youth kirtan darbar, a tree distribution, and, an environmental cleanup with the City of Surrey. The Gurdwara also raised $3,000 to spread the word about the celebrations in the greater Surrey and Vancouver Region.

Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Southall, London, UK –– The Sikh Community in Southall celebrated  by planting five fruit trees at the newly acquired green at Norwood Hall. It signifies the sangat’s participation in in the biggest community eco-food growing project in West London. They launched their “Community Feeding The Community” programme, involving organic and sustainable principles, with water from rainwater harvesting and compost from the Gurdwara’s bio-waste. Sikhs in the British Army are dedicating a day next month to discussing Sikh Environment Day and environmental action.

United States –– Sikhs marked Sikh Vatavaran with enthusiasm, from east to west coasts. The Sikh Students Association at Queens College in New York, lead by Teji Kaur, planted a tree for Guru Har Rai with university environmental groups and did katha on the environment; San Jose Gurdwara in California committed to sustainability through the use of steel thalis and solar energy; and San Antonio Gurdwara in Texas planted over 41 trees and raised over $2,000 to begin a Guru Rai Ji Garden on the Gurdwara premises, along with many other participants across the continent.

For details of many more moving and inspiring actions from so many communities around the world please link here for details.