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New York, NY – Sikhs joined more than 400,000 activists to demand climate justice in what is being heralded as the largest climate march in history. The People’s Climate March, organized by 350.org, attracted individuals of different faiths, backgrounds, and countries to make a statement on climate change and to demand justice for the environment. The march, which coincided with the beginning of UN General Assembly meetings also taking place in New York, attracted hundreds of international and national groups, churches, schools and other environmental organizations.
EcoSikh Ambassador Bandana Kaur helped organize Sikh participants in the march for environmental justice.
“Sikh teachings affirms the sanctity of the Earth; Our Mata Dharat (Mother Earth) is what binds us together as a human family,” said Kaur. “This march proved that humans of all walks not only care, but have the amazing potential to come together and send a clear message to leaders: we need a global commitment to a low-carbon future and strong cuts on emissions.”
Sikhs at the People’s Climate March joined a larger South Asian group, where people of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain faiths were present.
“The People’s Climate March is a global voice of the people of the earth, raising and addressing the environmental issues of their respective lands,” said Ravneet Singh, EcoSikh, Project Manager. “The Sikh groups in the Climate March, organized by EcoSikh and The Sikh Coalition, brought their voices together for the land of five rivers, Punjab.” Singh went on to describe the ecological damage Punjab, the homeland for Sikhs, is facing today. “Punjab, the birthplace of many Sikh Gurus, is suffering from groundwater pollution and air pollution due to lack of forest covers.”
The march was also a chance for EcoSikh representatives to highlight the ecological challenges facing Punjab. The environmental damage has even caused personal tragedy for many. “In the last few decades, thousands of farmers committed suicide due to unsustainable agricultural practices in the state. This is the reality for Punjabis whose land is their livelihood,” said Ravneet Singh.
Many young people joined the group organized by EcoSikh and The Sikh Coalition. They were equipped with handmade signs, painted with sayings such as “Ek Onkar, One Earth, One Love” and “Our Land of Five Rivers Has No Water.” The crowd also chanted sayings in English and Punjabi. EcoSikh President, Dr. Rajwant Singh led the diverse group of marchers in singing the Sikh hymn: Pavan Guru, Pani Pita, Mata Dharat Mahat, meaning the Air is the Teacher, Water is the Father, and the Earth is the Great Mother of all.
“Young Sikhs were brought together today to send a message to the world’s governments and the United Nations that we demand climate action,” said EcoSikh Program Manager, Sumeet Kaur. “It is important that Sikhs join people of other religions and backgrounds to forge a sense of unity as we combat the greatest challenge our and future generations will face.”