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March 14th Sikh Environment Day, Celebrations Taking Place Worldwide

March 14th Sikh Environment Day, Celebrations Taking Place Worldwide
Ravneet Pal Singh – [email protected] in Ludhiana Punjab
Bandana Kaur – [email protected] in New York, USA
The week of March 14th, hundreds of Sikh Gurdwaras, schools, and organizations across South Asia and the Sikh diaspora will participate in international environmental celebrations that mark the day when the seventh Sikh Guru, Guru Har Rai Ji became the Guru, or enlightened teacher, of the Sikhs. The respected Guru Har Rai is remembered in Sikh tradition for his deep sensitivity to nature and its preservation through the medicinal garden and animal sanctuary he kept in Kiratpur Sahib, located in present day Rupnagar District, Punjab.
The celebrations are being marked across South Asia and countries across North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Australia that the global Sikh diaspora calls home.
In South Asia, the Akal Takht, the central governing authority of Sikhs issued a statement from the city of Amritsar encouraging all Sikhs to commemorate Sikh Environment Day by planting a tree. Sikh institutions such as the historic Chief Khalsa Diwan, Sukrit Foundation and Tavleen Foundation have developed educational materials to teach children to be more respectful and caring towards the environment. Two major seats of Sikh temporal authority Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib and Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib have endorsed the idea, and Gurdwaras from Punjab, to Maharashtra to Bengal, and over two hundred schools have signed up to celebrate Sikh environment day by remembering the connection between the Sikh concept of the Divine and the environment. An appeal has also been issued by EcoSikh for plastic-free Holla Mohalla celebrations at Anandpur Sahib.
“The Creator has created a vast variety of flora and fauna to maintain ecological balance on this earth. Whenever we try to modify the creation, it loses its balance and we face disastrous earthquakes, floods, and droughts. It is due to this disturbance in the ecology that the environmentally sensitive people of the world are celebrating Environment Day,” said the Jathedar, or leader, of the Akal Takht Giani Gurbachan Singh in a statement issued last month.
Dedicated Sikh environmental leaders Baba Balbir Singh Seechewal in Kapurthala District in central Punjab and Baba Sewa Singh in Amritsar District are supporting Sikh environment day through mass tree planting and by adopting villages that are suffering from ecological degradation. Bibi Inderjit Kaur of Pingalwara, founded by the respected Sikh environmentalist and humanitarian Bhagat Puran Singh Ji hosted a zero-budget natural farming workshop in Sangrur District of Punjab’s Malwa region to encourage farmers to practice ecologically friendly agriculture without the use of hydrocarbon based chemical inputs.
In the Sikh Diaspora, Gurdwaras from Canada to Malaysia will be participating in Sikh Environment Day by focusing traditional verses from the Sikh scriptures on nature. In Northeast of the United States, the Connecticut Sikh Association will be celebrating the day with plans to install solar panels in their new Gurdwara, reducing energy costs by $15 thousand 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 planting, and a plant distribution in partnership with the youth organization Sikh Green Team.
In Malaysia, the Sikh Naujawan Sabha of Malaysia will be hosting an activity in the country’s forest reserves to reconnect children with nature. In West Africa, the Sikh 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 Toronto and Calgary, Canada in will be focusing on a children’s environmental education lesson that connects Sikh history, scripture, and values to the important environmental challenges such as energy and water shortage, waste and consumption, and responsible behavior and management of natural resources. Sikh organizations such as the Sikh Research Institute based in Texas, United States will be hosting a planting and several workshops on the environment focused on developing affection for the environment and creation in accordance with the Sikh value system that maintains that the Divine Creator and the Creation are One, as the revered poet-saint Baba Farid Ji reminds us.
“This day is an important day for Sikhs around the world. In the fields of agriculture, education, communications, health, and business, Sikhs are leaders with a tremendous potential to move to the head of curve in the field of the environment. The natural demands of the world will require us to restructure our lives us more sustainable manner, which in the end will not only benefit ecology and society but help us build a more robust and innovative economy based on the protection of our natural resources,“ said Bandana Kaur, Program Manager for EcoSikh.
The events are being supported and coordinated by the organization, EcoSikh, the Sikh community’s contribution to the Alliance of Religions and Conservation and United Nations Development Programme’s Plans for Generational Change Project, which aims to work with all the major faiths to improve their relationship with the environment. EcoSikh’s mission is to connect Sikh values, beliefs, and institutions to the most important environmental issues facing our world.  The organization draws on the rich tradition of the Sikh Gurus and the Khalsa to shape the behavior and outlook of Sikhs and the world, ensuring that a deep, abiding reverence for all creation remains a central part of the Sikh way of life.
If you would still like to participate in Sikh Environment Day, please register your organization or Gurdwara at www.ecosikh.org.