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PRESS RELEASE: A record 3,500 Sikh Organisations celebrated Sikh Environment Day this year

March 23, 2015:

Students at Gurmat Gian Missionary College in Ludhiana plan how to be green for Sikh Environment Day

Washington: March 16, 2016: Over 3,500 Sikh Gurdwaras and institutions took part in celebrating the Sikh Environment Day (SED) on March 14 all across India and all over the world. A Sikh day of celebrating the environment was the inspiration of Washington-based organization EcoSikh together with ARC since 2010 and this year's focus was to go organic.

-- Link here for ARC's story on SED 2016 --

This day marks the New Year in the Sikh calendar and the Gurgaddi Diwas (enthronement day) of the sixth Guru, Sri Guru Har Rai Ji, who is remembered in Sikh history for his deep sensitivity to nature, its preservation and the well-being of animals. He maintained an extensive herbal garden for medicinal purposes in Kiratpur Sahib in Punjab.

Spearheaded by EcoSikh, which works to offer a Sikh faith-based response to the challenges of global climate change, the move to switch to organic is getting enthusiastic response from the Sikh community across the world.

The Golden Temple in Amritsar, center of Sikhism, gave a huge nudge to this step by switching to organic langar (free food and community meal) being served to 100,000 people every day.

Gurdwaras celebrated organic food - and sold it in a special fair - on Sikh Environment Day
A special prayer and service at the Golden Temple was organized by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the body responsible for administering many of the gurdwaras in the Punjab, Northern India.

This year’s appeal reached over 1 million Sikhs across the world thanks to social media. There were over 45,000 engagements on EcoSikh’s Facebook account and hundreds of Sikh groups across the world shared this idea which inspired green action in many places. EcoSikh staff and volunteers in Ludhiana, Amritsar, Mohali, Norway and Washington had coordinated this largest environmental direct action by Sikhs across the globe.

Dr. Rajwant Singh, President of EcoSikh, said, “Focusing to go organic received an enthusiastic response from the Sikh masses particularly from the farming community in Punjab, which has seen economic hardships recently. Hundreds of gurdwaras and Sikh households made a commitment to go organic and it seems that this is the best tribute to Guru Har Rai, who had inspired Sikhs to live their lives sling minimum harm to their surroundings. It is heartening to see that Sikh individuals have led efforts at the local levels in India and all across the globe to take meaningful green actions dedicated to this day."

EcoSikh South Asia Project Manager Ravneet Singh said, “Organic food is necessary to revive the true spirit of langar, which is sharing healthy food with the humanity. The campaign aims to convert pesticide-free food served at over 50,000 Gurdwaras where nearly 5,000,000 people partake in Guru’s kitchen, world-wide. And this is definitely going to impact the demand of organic food, support organic farmers and boost the health of all life on the planet.”

Suneet Tuli Singh, EcoSikh board member and CEO of Datawind, which works to give tablets and information to all communities, said, “It is imperative that the spiritual centres of all religions, including gurdwaras, commit to stopping the damage to Mother Earth for the future generations. Our message is simple - Eat Organic, Buy Organic, Grow Organic and be Organic!” Datawind organized a farmer’s meet to give them tips on the given topic.

Harveen Kaur, youth volunteer with EcoSikh in Norway, said, “This is the best way to practice Sikhism’s compassionate teachings which is to help everyone in every way.”

A special interfaith organic langar was organized by EcoSikh in Ludhiana which was attended by various religious leaders. A Sikh Organic farmer, JS Ghulal, who provided all the ingredients for the langar, stated, “I have dedicated my life to providing nourishment and health through my food. I appeal to all the Gurdwaras to join the campaign and provide healthy food to their communities.”

Deputy Shahi Imam, Usman Ludhianvi ji said, “It is necessary to protect the purity of our food to secure the future of your generations. Sikh Environment day is a huge initiative that can save Punjab and its farming traditions.”

Farmer family hailing from Chandigarh, Malvinder Kaur and Darshan Singh Rudel who attended an organic farmer fair at Mohali Phase IV, expressed, “the revolution was underway in Sikhism and the spring is round the corner.”

The first time the idea of Sikh Environment Day was mooted was in 2010. More than 400 gurdwaras, schools, business, and communities marked the occasion. And today, after six years the participation figures have reached nine times in which Sikhism's largest organizations SGPC, Khalsa College institutions, 960 schools of Guru Nanak Multiversity, 419 schools under Punjab School Education Board, Guru Nanak Engineering College in Ludhiana, 269 schools of Satnam Sarab Kalyan Trust, all joined to mark this day. EcoSikh had organization in USA, Norway, Australia, Canada, China, Sweden, Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Argentina, Peru, Kenya and UK celebrating this day.

EcoSikh president Dr Rajwant Singh
Jugraj Singh, founder of Basics of Sikhi, a popular online teaching forum with a large following, issued a special video on SED exhorting Sikhs to take green action and this video went viral all across. Punjabi and Sikh media serving a large Sikh diaspora in all continents helped spread the message globally.

Gurpreet Kaur, EcoSikh’s special program coordinator, said, “Scores of young people are excited about this effort since it gives them the opportunity to relate to their faith in a unique way.’

Links

Link here for ARC's story on SED 2016

EcoSikh website

Downloadable Sikh Environment Day toolkit

Read the full text of Liz Carey's report from the Chesapeake Clipper section in the Virginia Pilot, March 9, 2014



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