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PRESS RELEASE: All Sikhs urged to celebrate 14th March as Sikh Environment Day

September 29, 2010:

This date marks both the Sikh New Year, according to the Nanakshahi Sikh Calendar, and also the Gurgaddi Diwas of the seventh Sikh Guru, Guru Har Rai ji, who in the mid 17th century was preaching that Sikhs must defend all that is vulnerable – including plants and animals.

“It will provide an opportunity to reflect upon our relationship with nature and mark a day on which we commit to environmental activism as followers of Guru Har Rai ji,” said Dr Rajwant Singh, who is the head of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) in Washington DC.

“We hope that this particular day will be celebrated and the entire Sikh community will do something in solidarity around the world.”

In July 2009 SCORE organized an EcoSikh conclave in New Delhi , as part of the UNDP-ARC initiative worldwide to help faiths create long term environmental plans.

Sikh organizations and leaders declared a five year plan as a Sikh response and commitment to save the earth against the threat of global warming and ecological depletion. Find out more here.

This plan was presented to Prince Philip and the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon in November at Windsor Castle as part of ARC’s major pre-Copenhagen religion and environment event. It can be downloaded here.

One of the key pledges – among others connected with education and media and greening gurdwaras (Sikh temples) – was to hold a special holy day for the environment.

Various celebrations will take place in Punjab and in other parts of India. In North America, various Gurdwaras have committed to celebrating this day as a Sikh Environment day. Sikh youth is also getting excited in planning and executing ideas to celebrate this occasion.

Avtar Singh Makkar, President of the Sikh Gurdwara PC (SGPC), has agreed to send announcements to all educational institutions and Gurdwaras in the Punjab to mark March 14th as the Sikh Environment day. He also pledged to plant 100,000 trees in SGPC run schools and colleges. SCORE has requested him to direct all ragis to sing shabads with environment theme from the Golden Temple during TV broadcasts to encourage Sikhs all across the globe to dedicate this Sunday to the environment.
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee has also decided to send directives to all the 40 educational institutions in Delhi to celebrate this day and there will be a special observance at the Gurdwara Bangla Sahib.
Sikh Youth in Washington has drawn up a plan to make presentations on Sikh environmental teachings on March 14 at the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation. Youth will sing shabads focusing on nature. In addition, they plan to collect funds to support planting of 100 trees on one kilometer length of road leading to Khadoor Sahib in Punjab, India.
Baba Sewa Singh , a Sikh environmental hero based in Khadoor Sahib, who has planted and nurtured over 100,000 trees in last ten years, has agreed to plant trees to kickstart this celebration. To plant a tree and to water it for four years, the cost in India is $25 dollars.
The Bhai Vir Singh Sahit Sadan and Guru Granth Sahib Resource centres have agreed to observe this day in New Delhi.
• SCORE also plans to announce a committee of prominent Sikh personalities and environmental activists like Baba Sewa Singh, Baba Seechewal, Prof. Manjit Singh, and Justice Kuldeep Singh to help coordinate Sikh environmental activism.
Harpal Singh, Chairman of Nanhi Chhaan, also joined in this initiative and he will provide organizational support. He has appealed Sikhs to adopt “Nanhi Chhaan” and plant a sapling on the 14th of March in honor of Nature’s two great Nurturers – the girl child who is mother to mankind and trees who are Mother Earth’s greatest gift to life on this plant.

Please email arcworld@arcworld.org if you have

Suggested activities on Sikh Environment Day include:

INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES

• Planting trees or gardens
• Visiting your local parks monthly as time for spiritual reflection and renewal

COMMUNITIES

• participate in and organize a local environmental clean up.

GURDWARAS

• Encouraging ragis – the singers in gurdwaras - to perform environmentally themed shabads. A number of shabads extol the relationship between Sikhi and the environment and this message can be a focus during this celebration. Each community can create their own theme or follow one suggested by the EcoSikh initiative organized through the website.
• Eating only local, organic, fresh food for the day
• Distribute tree saplings
• Organize a tree planting ceremony or plant saplings of plants in the Gurdwara complex.
• Organize a cleanup of rubbish in the area around the gurdwaras
• Serve organic non GM food in langar on this day

www.ecosikh.org

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In 1999 the Sikh communities worldwide agreed that the next 300 year cycle would be the Cycle of Creation. This decision has begun to shape and influence the way Sikh communities worldwide perceive the future. The Sikh Five Year Plan is the next historic step.