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Chandigarh, February 18, 2015; EcoSikh appealed the Sikhs to celebrate March 14 as the Sikh Environment Day on the Gurtagaddi Diwas (enthronement day) of 7th Sikh Guru, Guru Har Rai with an added focus on climate change as UN is gearing for a major worldwide summit on climate change in December 2015 in Paris. Guru Har Rai is remembered in Sikh history for his deep sensitivity to nature and its preservation. Last year, this day was marked by Sikh communities in India, USA, UK, Australia, Malaysia, Canada, Dubai, Norway, Pakistan and Africa.
EcoSikh has been leading and coordinating the celebration of the Sikh Environment Day since 2011 throughout India and around the globe and has popularized the day with the goal of creating environmental awareness amongst the Sikh masses and engaging them to take action on nature preservation. This year’s focus is climate change and how Sikh community can play a role on this major threat to the planet.
Dr. Rajwant Singh, President of EcoSikh, who especially flew from Washington, said, “Last year, over 2,000 Gurdwaras, schools, and organizations were involved in celebrating the Sikh Environment Day and took part in awareness campaign, plantation drive, nature marches, katha and kirtan based on nature subject from Sikh scriptures.”
He added, “This year’s Sikh environment day, EcoSikh will be emphasizing on climate change issues and will engage Sikh masses and gurdwaras on increasing renewable and alternate energy consumption, water conservation and reuse, consuming and using organic food in our langars and homes and increasing green cover. Climate change is the most important issue of our times and people of faith must act to save the Earth from this dire peril. We hope to work with various governments on climate issues and will welcome a meaningful binding agreement coming out of Paris. Both Mumbai and Kolkata will be seriously threatened later this century if a decisive action is not taken.” EcoSikh is working with the White House and the State Department on climate issues and was also invited by the World Bank president in Washington.
While addressing the press, EcoSikh Project Manager, Ravneet Singh said, “Sikh Environment Day has played a positive role in shaping Sikh mindset and attitude towards mother earth. We have witnessed that in the past five years many Gurdwaras have stopped using Styrofoam and switched to steel utensils, many Sikh youth are stepping in to make Sikh celebrations processions (nagar kirtans) clean and green, planting trees and gifting saplings on auspicious occasions, many Gurdwara managements are looking for solar and bio solutions for energy.”
“It is important that the Gurdwaras across the world celebrate the Sikh Environment Day and add March 14 in their annual calendar of celebrations so that the environmental values in the Gurbani are passed on to next generations. This will help produce leaders for tomorrow who are green conscious.” added Ravneet Singh.
“Over eight hundred schools across Punjab will take water pledge on Sikh Environment Day”, declared Jaspreet Kaur, Project Manager of Guru Nanak Multiversity Educate Punjab Project. “From the last three years we have been organizing Sikh Environment Day celebrations in Punjab schools in collaboration with Satnam Sarv Kalyan Trust and Chief Khalsa Diwan. EcoSikh’s Sikh Environment Day toolkit that includes various write ups, posters, pledges and short movies on nature conservation have marked change in the young mindsets. The schools are also keener in creating environmental awareness and projects in their campus. Each year we are encouraged to go extra mile during our celebrations in March.” Jaspreet notified.
Dr. BS Brar who has contributed a lot of his time and energy in the development of two parks dedicated to Guru Har Rai ji in his village Patto Hira Singh Wala in Moga was present at the press club along with his team to appeal the Gurdwara managements to take concrete action to protect the health of Punjab. Said Dr. Brar, “The historical Gurdwara in Village Patto has dedicated its land to create gardens and landscapes on its 13 acres of land as a tribute to Guru Har Rai ji. The parks we started on Sikh Environment Day in 2012 are still in developing stage and would cost over 60 lakh rupees ($100,000). We have planned an orchid, a pond and an organic kitchen garden for langar which will benefit the village’s health and improve the biodiversity in our area.”
Gursahib Singh, the team leader of a Ludhiana based youth group, Young Flares that contributed two years of hard labour in greening and cleaning of the nagar kirtans (Sikh religious procession) in partnership with EcoSikh were also present at the press conference at the Press Club Chandigarh. “We need more time to really make it happen, we aim that Sikhs do not litter.” Said Gursahib Singh.
Dean Student Welfare, Dr. Bir Bikram Singh from the Sri Guru Granth Sahib World University an SGPC run educational institution, shared with the press, “Such environmental initiatives have always inspired us to create environmental projects, our institution always arrange seminars for our students and plants trees in huge numbers in honour of Guru Har Rai.”