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Sikh communities worldwide prepare for another successful Sikh Environment Day

March 5, 2014:

(Report from The Virginia Pilot)

"Every Sunday after service, members of the local Sikh community eat a traditional Indian lunch at their temple, Gurudwara Sahib.

As part of a month-long environmental celebration, the Guru Nanak Foundation of Tidewater recently pledged to stop using plastic foam trays and cups for the meal.

"Styrofoam takes over a million years to decompose," Surinder Dhillon said at a recent service. "So today is the last day we are using disposable cups and plates in Langar Hall, our community kitchen."

The foundation is the only Sikh temple providing services to Hampton Roads, Elizabeth City and the Outer Banks, Tejpal Singh Basra said.

The local congregation will join nearly 2,000 other temples, schools and organizations Friday to celebrate the Sikh Environmental Day.

It marks the New Year in the Sikh calendar, and the day Guru Har Rai Ji became the seventh Guru of the Sikhs. He is remembered in Sikh history for his deep sensitivity to nature and its preservation, said Surinder S. Channa, the foundation's secretary."

(Report by Liz Carey, Virginia Pilot, March 9, 2014)

In taking this small but important step towards a greener way of living the Gurdwara's 100 members are joining hundreds of thousands of Sikhs worldwide in recognising their spiritual duty to take care of the environment.

Young Sikhs campaign for trees during Sikh Environment Day 2013
Co-ordinated by the Ecosikh organisation this year's Sikh Environment Day will be the fourth time that Sikh communities everywhere will have combined celebration of nature with raising awareness of environmental issues and - most importantly - taking action to make a greener world.

Last year over 1500 Sikh organisations from Africa, Asia, Europe and America devised their own ways to mark the occasion and with 1,772 groups signed up in advance Ecosikh is hoping to reach their target of over 2,000 schools, Gurdwaras, businesses and communities participating in 2014.

Among many other inspiring pledges already received is an ambitious promise from the Young Flares Sikh youth group in Ludhiana, Punjab to gift potted medicinal plants to their local old people's home, to work with a local orphanage to develop a kitchen garden for the children to grow food and to donate dustbins to help deal with the rubbish generated by their local market. All the money to fund these actions was raised from a public meeting where the young people proved so inspiring that even passing tourists were happy to donate to the cause.

In another Punjab community, villagers in Patto Hira Singh Walla are adding eleven acres of land to their historic Gurdwara in order to create a magical natural space complete with duck pond, composting facilities, organic food cultivation and tree planting. They will be joined by 26 other local organisations when they celebrate on March 14.

Planting saplings to mark the 2013 celebrations
Over in Houston Texas the local Gurdwara also has big plans for a weekend-long programme including celebratory kirtan darbar performances, informative environmental presentations and nature-focused gurbani katha. The events will include a major clean-up of the grounds of Gurdwara Sikh Centre of The Gulf Coast Area followed by the planting of flowering plants to increase the green space around the building.

It's not too late to take part, however, and the Eco Sikh EcoSikh is ready to take new registrations right up to the day itself. The site provides a really useful toolkit to help groups devise the most suitable way for them to join in the action as well as a page about taking part including dozens of inspiring pledges already received from all around the globe.

Useful links

EcoSikh website

Online Sikh Environment Day registration form

Downloadable Sikh Environment 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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