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Sikh environment day is really taking off. This document gives creative and practical ideas for how individuals, families, schools and gurdwaras can celebrate the week of March 14. Tree planting, green gurbani, lesson plans, and ideas of how to get families to join together on these issues…
1. On the week of March 14th
2. Initiatives for the future
□ Kirtan/katha on the environment (shabads focussed on kudrat). Click here for ideas.
□ Hold a ceremonial tree planting.
□ Get your gurdwara to give (appropriate species of) tree saplings as prasad.
□ Green nagar kirtan.
□ Gift a tree to family and friends.
□ Sign up for, or give, a class on looking after saplings.
□ Install an environmental notice board in schools/gurdwaras/institutes etc.
□ Request that your children’s school introduces some exciting eco-lessons, either this week or for World Environment Day. See below for ideas.
□ Go for a walk in nature with your friends or family. If you see rubbish, pick it up and put it into a bag.
□ Introduce a ban on plastic in gurdwara/institutions/buildings. Carry your own reusable bags.
□ Switch to environment friendly paper, cleaning products.
□ What could you do to improve your gurdwara’s garden? Take the first steps to put this into action.
□ Make this week’s langar all organic or no-pesticide food.
□ Switch to environment friendly paper, cleaning products.
□ Learn from Baba Sewa Singh and look after the saplings you planted.
□ Learn from Baba Seechewal Singh and clean up your nearby river or waterway. Link with others and get a system going of other caring people.
□ Connect with the forestry/environment department to beautify your city.
□ Plan to install solar panels in your gurdwara/institute.
□ Plan a rain-water harvesting projects in your gurdwara, office, home, school, street…
□ Start recycling waste – cardboard, paper, batteries, bottles, metal, plastic, food and appeal your Municipal corporation to improve these facilities in your area.
□ Use public transport as far as possible or use your bicycle for short trips. Make eco-transport cool.
□ Get a group together to develop a park or woodland in your area.
A list of ideas and resources for gurdwaras in particular to go greener can be found here.
Schools can celebrate Sikh Environment Day by:
1. Gearing their lessons to nature and its protection.
* Poetry can be taught in Punjabi and English lessons, with the students looking at trees or fields or perhaps even a tiny twig for inspiration.
* Art and music can be about how creative people have been inspired by nature, listening to classical music about animals and rivers and streams, and perhaps listening to gurbani about the natural world. Pupils can be encouraged to draw from nature, perhaps also designing covers for books about the environmental crisis and how to solve it.
* Religion classes can be around discussing stories around Guru Nanak and his love of nature, and his connection with rivers (and perhaps talking about Baba Seechewal Singh’s work with the Kali Bein.
* Where appropriate, lessons could be held outside, under trees, recreating the old form of classes, and the children could be encouraged to sit still for three minutes, just listening to what they hear, and then talk about it afterwards.
* In Geography they could looking at their own geographical situation – how much are they wasting? How are they recycling? What does compost do? How does it work? How about rainwater harvesting?
* Also they could have a gardening class (and if there is no garden or allotment for the pupils could one be created for Environment Day, for growing appropriate vegetables). Discuss the importance of kitchen gardens at home, ask children to write about the trees they have in their own garden if they have one or their neighbourhood. What is special about those trees? What are they called? What do they need? Why are they beautiful? Why are they important?
But there is so much more. A Catholic school in the UK celebrates Earth Day every year. The students, aged from 6 to 13, have a complete “timetable crash” so that the whole day is spent doing something that celebrates the environment in every class, whether that is science lessons about nature and biodiversity, or a stream cleanup with the biology teacher showing them about the life in the stream, or building eco-friendly dens, or making prayer flags and dyeing them with natural colours…
A 19 page document is available here, and an interview with the teacher who devised this is here. These are Catholic schools and they looked to their faith to find a way of teaching children how to care for the world. You might find it inspiring – let us know if you do and let us know too what ideas specific to Sikhism or Punjab or your own particular interests you have had and we’ll add it here for next year!
□ Invite a group of eight to ten families who are close to you
□ Select a ‘theme’ for the event. When we celebrate someones birthday, the focus is on having fun and recognizing the person whose birthday we are celebrating. Similarly, the ‘theme’ for this event could be our Ecology and the Environment. Then have some simple reference materials that draw a connection between the teachings of our beloved Guru Har Rai ji and the important role our environment serves, and how we are meant to love and care for our environment.
□ Discuss the food you will bring and eat, and issues about what kind of food, how it was grown, how close to you it was grown, what kind of food is kind to people and kind to the earth that is also delicious?
□ Declare a commitment of the 5 things you will do differently going forward – which are environmentally friendly practices of how you live your life. For example this could be in some of the areas of (a) energy consumption – moving towards more energy efficient practices in your home and business; (b) recycling (c) better management of natural resources (d) supporting more environmentally friendly ways of harvesting – supporting organic products and farming (e) using solar energy (f) car-pooling, etc etc.
□ The idea is to be an ‘Eco Warrior’, and also be a role model for others
□ Have a wonderful celebration on March 14.
□ Agree to meet next year
This is a page that is, appropriately, growing organically, so please keep returning. Also please go to our Sikh Environment Day Resources page for specific guides for gurdwaras to go green.