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Chandigarh, March 11, 2011: EcoSikh officials today introduced the Sikh community’s mass mobilization to celebrate Sikh Environment Day on March 14th. This day was proposed by EcoSikh last year and is now being marked for the second time with a focus worldwide. In addition, EcoSikh released ‘Ek Bageecha’ a collection of hymns on nature in Sikh Scriptures, and Chandigarh philanthropist Manmohan Singh Kohli presented this to Baba Sewa Singh, a Sikh environmental activist from Khadur Sahib, Punjab.
More than 250 gurdwaras and schools joined
Some 250 gurdwaras and schools from around the Sikh world have signed up to join in Sikh Environment Day, and this number is increasing by the hour. March 14th is the Gurgaddi Diwas (enthronement day) of Guru Har Rai ji, the 7thGuru of the Sikh who became Guru in 1644, a great humanitarian who inspired Sikhs to preserve nature and promote the well-being of animals. Dr. Rajwant Singh, Convener of EcoSikh who joined the press conference from Washington via electronic media, said: “The response from the Sikh community to commemorate this day has been tremendous.
This is perhaps the first time the Sikh community has been mobilized to this large extent across borders for the protection of the environment. We are confident that this day will leave many inspired to make personal and societal changes to help save Mother Earth. This is one huge way Sikhs can showcase the benevolent theology of the Sikhism on the world stage. The events are being supported and coordinated by tEcoSikh, the Sikh community’s response to the degraded environment of the earth and the threat of global warming.”
Response to UN call
EcoSikh came into existence as an answer to a call to world religions by the United Nations asking them to contribute in environmental restoration. EcoSikh has proposed a five year plan to have maximum participation of Sikh gurdwaras and institutions on this agenda. Akal Takht, the central governing authority of Sikhs has issued a statement encouraging all Sikhs to commemorate Sikh Environment Day by planting a tree. He added: “We are thankful that SGPC has issued an order to all institutions under its administration to celebrate Sikh Environment Day. This will certainly give a major boost to this campaign.”
Baba Sewa Singh
Baba Sewa Singh ji of Khadoor Sahib, was a speaker at the press conference. “We have to seek guidance from Gurbani and also from the life of Guru Har Rai ji to work for greater good. Working for the restoration of nature is one big way to serve humanity and coming generations. I congratulate EcoSikh for this initiative of mobilizing Sikh community worldwide for one purpose of environmental activism.”
What can we do?
Dr. Rajwant Singh also threw light on EcoSikh’s initiative to put forth the suggestion of making Hola Mohalla and Anandpur Sahib plastic Free. He informed that EcoSikh had appealed to Giani Tarlochan Singh, Jathedar of Takhat Keshgarh to persuade authorities and the pilgrims coming to Anandpur Sahib to not use plastic bags and plastic products and to ban these items from this sacred Sikh site. He said: “Anandpur Sahib and Kiratpur Sahib is the only hilly sacred site of the Sikhs and we must protect its serene surroundings and natural beauty for coming generations.”
He thanked the civil administrator DC, A.S. Miglani for issuing a public pronouncement of banning the use of plastics and other pollutants on Holla Mohalla. In addition, he thanked Keshgarh Jathedar Giani Tarlochan Singh who has sent out an appeal to ban plastic and is planning to lead a nature march in Kiratpur Sahib in which he has mobilized students and masses to join.
All other major Sikh institutions such as the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, Chief Khalsa Diwan, Sukrit, Akal Purakh ki Fauj, Guru Gobind Singh Study Circle, Gurmat Gian Missionary College and many others have joined to celebrate this day with their individual plan of action. Two major Takhts, or seats of Sikh authority, and Gurdwaras from Punjab, from Maharashtra to Bengal to Assam, and over two hundred schools have signed up to celebrate Sikh Environment Day.
In addition, Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal, a environmental hero, is also taking the initiative to mark this day with a tree plantation.” He added, “Hazoor sahib Jathedar Giani Kulwant Singh will organize a tree planting and Hazoor Sahib committee will host a Nagar Kirtan with an emphasis on Nature, on March 14th and has posted giant hoardings emphasizing Gurbani’s message on nature.The celebrations are being marked across South Asia, in countries across Middle East, North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Australia.” Dr. Rajwant Singh in response to the role of Gurdwaras outside of India, said, “In the Sikh Diaspora, Gurdwaras from Canada to Malaysia will be participating in Sikh Environment Day.
Around the world
In Connecticut, in the United States, the Connecticut Sikh Association will be celebrating the day with plans to install solar panels in their new Gurdwara to reduce energy costs by $15,000 per year. In British Columbia, Canada, Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara and Sukh Sagar Gurdwara Sahib will be hosting a community environmental clean up, a tree plantation, and a plant distribution.
In Malaysia, the Sikh Naujawan Sabha of Malaysia will be hosting an activity in the country’s forest reserves. In West Africa, the sangat in Nigeria will be focusing on reducing waste and on encouraging others to lead a simple life to protect the environment. Sikh educational institutions known as Khalsa Schools, including several private schools in North America in will be focusing on a children’s environmental education lesson based on Gurbani.
Ravneet Singh, India Project Manager of EcoSikh, said: “EcoSikh’s mission is to highlight the message of Gurbani to face the challenges of our world. We feel that rich tradition of the Sikh Gurus and the Khalsa certainly can shape the behavior and outlook of Sikhs and youngsters amongst us and will inspire them to take thoughtful action to save the planet. We are deeply heartened by the overwhelmingly positive response from of the community from all over the world. ”
Please contact [email protected] for questions in India and [email protected] for questions about the diaspora. And please tell us how you celebrated the week of Sikh Environment Day.
CAPTION FOR PHOTO: L-R EcoSikh India Project Manager Ravneet Singh, Environmental hero Baba Sewa Singh, Chandigarh philanthropist Manmohan Singh Kohli