Green Gurdwaras and Beyond
Pavan Guru Paanee Pitaa Maataa Dharat Mahat
By Anju Kaur, SikhNN staff writer, Washington Bureau
Posted: Sunday, March 25, 2012 | 10:12 pm
SIKH ENVIRONMENT DAY
Perhaps EcoSikh’s most widely known awareness program is Sikh Environment Day, March 14. It coincides with the Gurgaddhi of Guru Har Rai and the Nanakshahi New Year. It is celebrated around world and supported by the Akal Takht, the SGPC, the DSGMC and about 1,000 other gurdwaras and Sikh institutions around the world, Bandana Kaur said.
“It is a day of remembrance of our connection with the environment,” she told SikhNN. Sikhs celebrate it like a Gurpurab by singing kirtan, presenting katha on the environment, planting trees and cleaning up their communities.
In February 2012, the Akal Takhat issued a statement in support of Sikh Environment Day and called on Sikhs to reduce the use of plastics in gurdwaras, homes and elsewhere.
Takhat Sri Kesgarh Sahib also appealed to all Sikhs to protect Mother Nature and plant trees to mark the day.
The DSGMC enrolled all of its 12 schools to celebrate the day by holding seminars on environment conservation, reflecting on Sikh teachings by planting trees, talking about waste reduction and implementing recycling policies.
STAFF AND FUNDING
The goal of EcoSikh is “to help all live in harmony according with philosophy of Guru Nanak,” Bandana Kaur added.
As part of her master’s degree program, Bandana Kaur was working with women in rural areas of Punjab to plant pesticide and fertilizer-free gardens, when the opportunity arose with EcoSikh, she told SikhNN.
One of two $50,000 grants from the Norwegian government for religious environmentalist groups went to EcoSikh in early 2010. The grant provided for two staff members.
Bandana Kaur joined EcoSikh at the end of 2010 as a part-time program manager covering Central and Western continents, from New York. She finished her master’s degree in environmental sciences in May 2011 from Yale University.
Ravneet Pal Singh joined EcoSikh as a full-time program manager for the Eastern continents, from Ludhiana. He graduated from Punjab Agricultural University in 2003 with a degree in agricultural engineering.
The two-year grant enabled Bandana Kaur and Ravneet Pal Singh to carry out the five-year Sikh plan.
“Not a single penny so far has come from any Sikh pocket,” said Rajwant Singh, EcoSikh founder and board member, to about 120 people at the fundraiser. “All of the work which has been done, it is out of only those $50,000.
“Can you imagine if we continue this pace, where we will be in this work?”
EcoSikh’s goal is to again raise $50,000 to support one more program manager in India, and to bring Bandana Kaur to full-time, members told SikhNN.
“We can send a message to the government of Norway that we have, as a community matched, what you have been giving to us,” Rajwant Singh said. “The leadership of this world is waiting for a community to step forward and lead the world. If we do it… if Sikhs do it, lot of other religious communities will follow.”