Washington Sikhs Back EcoSikh’s Green Agenda on Climate Change

Image 1 Gala 2016

EcoSikh Gala Event 2016

Punjab is facing ecological disaster

Washington DC, September 21, 2016 : Over 250 guests from all over the Washington and Baltimore area came together to support the activities of EcoSikh, a seven year old environmental group working on climate change and ecological issues on behalf of the Sikhs in Punjab and around the world.  An inspirational and entertaining 5th EcoSikh Gala, held at the Ballroom in Bethesda, Maryland, had guests receiving a detailed description on various tasks that have been achieved by the organization. This is perhaps the largest gathering of the Sikhs focused on green agenda.

Gita Pabla, EcoSikh Washington Team member, while welcoming the attendees, opened the evening by saying “Let us all join to support EcoSikh’s efforts to save Mother Earth’s ecological future.’ The star-studded event featured Bollywood comedian and acclaimed Punjabi Actor, Ghuggi, a renowned investment virtuoso, Hardeep Walia from Silicon Valley and musical entertainment from award-winning University of Maryland’s South Asian a cappella team, Anokha.

Hardeep Walia, CEO of the Motif Investing, narrated a touching story of his mother succumbing to environmental disaster unleashed by Saddam Hussain’s burning of oil wells during the first Gulf War. She fell ill and never recovered. Hardeep Walia said, “Climate Change is the single most catastrophic threat facing the entire world and yet we do not see it. People are not taking it seriously but is happening. It is essential that we take this seriously and support organizations like EcoSikh. Environmental teachings are a central part of the faith and we ought to be part of this effort.” Hardeep has recently been approached by Wall Street Banks and investment firms to create a climate hedge fund.

Ghuggi, a special guest, entertained the audience with his wit and humor. He was a sought after person throughout the evening. His talk was both inspirational and full of lighthearted comedy. He appealed to audience and said, “Guru Nanak years ago gave us all a message to be conscious of nature and to honor our coexistence with it. Every person needs to have the sensitivity to keep their  surroundings healthy because it ultimately affects both our inner and outer health.”

He added, “Being healthy is as important as being happy. My job has been to create smiles and laughter but I feel that we, as humans, need to make sure that we spread happiness to all beings on the planet.”

Gurpreet Ghuggi at 5th EcoSikh Gala last night in Washington, DC.

Dr. Rajwant Singh, President of EcoSikh, said, “Punjab is facing an ecological disaster due to overuse of pesticides and chemical fertilizers in the soil. Punjab’s rivers and ground water are no longer safe for human consumption. All Punjabis are facing serious health challenges. Cancer is on the rise and it is critical that all Punjabis, and particularly Sikhs, make the environment a top priority.

He added, “We are trying to engage all sections of the community to get involved in environmental issues throughout Punjab and the world. This is one huge way Sikhs can have a positive image and also leave a wonderful legacy.”

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Harmeet Singh, President of the EcoSikh Washington Team, said, “EcoSikh is a non-profit organization dedicated to connecting Sikh values, beliefs and institutions to the most important environmental issues facing our world today. We are the only Sikh organization working on the issue of climate change and for the preservation of the earth’s resources.”

Ameeta Vohra, EcoSikh Team member said, “I am so glad to be involved in this organization. It is so satisfying to know that the actions we are taking will have a long lasting impact for future generations.”

Meenu Nandra, EcoSikh’s Outreach Director, said, “We will continue to take steps which are aligned with our faith’s perspective on nature. We need everyone’s help to succeed.”

EcoSikh was founded in 2009 in collaboration with United Nations and Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) headed by Prince Philip and has been invited by the White House, US Department of State, French Government and the World Bank. It has a four member staff based in Ludhiana, Amritsar and in Washington. This organization has popularized the idea of Sikh Environment Day, celebrated on March 14, marking the Gurgaddi diwas (enthronement day) of Guru Har Rai ji, the 7th Sikh Guru. Last year, 3500 Gurdwaras, schools and colleges across the world celebrated this day with a “green Diwan”, focused on teachings about nature in Guru Granth Sahib. The day is also about encouraging Sikhs to take steps to make their gurdwaras more eco-friendly and taking green steps of planting trees, switching to reusable utensils and also installing solar panels. EcoSikh has worked with SGPC to transition Golden Temple langar to organic langar. 100,000 people now eat healthy food at this sacred site every day. EcoSikh also focuses on persuading gurdwaras, schools and colleges to stop using plastic and styrofoam products and urging them to also use organic produce and products.

50 farmers are given training every 15 days. In addition, one of EcoSikh’s initiatives is giving leadership training to hundreds of youth in Punjab to become knowledgeable about environmental issues and become advocates. They have started the annual Amritsar Foundation Day (the day Guru Ramdas ji, 4th Sikh Guru, founded the city in 1577) celebrations engaging Hindus, Muslims, Christians and all Sikh organizations, including SGPC, to be involved in saving the ecology of this sacred city.

The event and EcoSikh is largely supported by its volunteers and team members: Amar Trivedi, Andrew Wilson, Arvinder Singh, Bhavdeep Bajaj, Dimple Kaur Sandhu, Gavinder Billing, Gita Pabla,  Harmeet Singh Sandhu, Harshdeep Singh, Imneetpal Singh Brar, Manpreet Singh, Manranjan Singh Chowdhary,  Meenu Nandra, Ramandeep Singh, Ravleen Kaur Khalsa, and Ian Asenjo.

EcoSikh’s event was supported by many organizations and businesses around the Washington area. Potomac Plants and Petals provided the fresh plants for the guest tables and Taj Catering provided the food and services for the attendees. Guests had the opportunity to taste organic mango juice provided by India based 24 Mantra Organic, a company focused on organic products.

To Support EcoSikh, visit www.ecosikh.org

Anokha acappela group with Ghuggi and Hardeep Walia

Anokha acappela group with Ghuggi and Hardeep Walia

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Hardeep Walia ( center) honored by EcoSikh. Left to right Dr. Harminder Singh Sethi, Mrs. Harmeet Singh, EcoSikh board member Anita Arora, Surinder Raheja and Rajwant Singh

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