EcoSikh, a Washington DC-based organisation, will celebrate the 5th annual Sikh Environment Day at Amritsar on March 14.
Launched in 2009 by Dr Rajwant Singh when the Sikh Council on Religion and Education joined in partnership with Alliance of Religions and Conservation [ARC] and UNDP in response to challenge thrown up by Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary-General, calling upon the religions of the world to become active in promoting the care of the environment, EcoSikh submitted a 5-Year Plan on the environment to the UN and also Prince Philip, ARC’s founder, at the ‘Many heavens, one earth’ event in Windsor, UK.
Taking about its beliefs and works, EcoSikh’s Ludhiana-based South-Asia project manager, Ravneet Singh said, “Connecting Sikh values, beliefs, and institutions to the most important environmental issues facing the world, EcoSikh draws on the rich tradition of the Sikh Gurus and the Khalsa Panth to shape the behavior and outlook of Sikhs and the world, ensuring that their deep reverence for all creation remains a central part of the Sikh way of life.”
EcoSikh has two offices in India -- at Ludhiana and Amritsar. To begin with, the organisation plans to make the ‘nagar kirtan’ or religious processions taken out on important occasions, ‘green’ or garbage free. “We have been encouraging stall-holders to have garbage bins beside their stalls, explaining them its advantages. We have been encouraging them to provide water and steel cups (to reduce consumption of water bottles). We have been marshalling teams of Sikh youth, in branded sashes and turbans, who are there to clear up (and talk to participants about why this is a Sikh seva),” said Ravneet, adding that 2,000 gurdwaras, schools and religious communities participated in Sikh Environment Day in 2014, which was 30% more than the numbers in 2013.
On EcoSikhs’ other activities and initiatives, Ravneet said, “In 2012, under Green Pilgrimage Network, we launched a five-year-focused project, Eco-Amritsar, on six-point agenda covering air, water and land pollution via citizen participation to mark 440th anniversary of the city, founded by Guru Ramdas ji. It has also been decided to celebrate Amritsar Foundation Day aka Amritsar, ‘Sthapna Diwas’, annually, involving all the major stakeholders of the city and the community with the theme, ‘My city, my pride, my responsibility!” he said.
He added, “Each day; the air, water and all the other natural resources of Amritsar bear an extra load of 100,000 tourists visiting the city. Hence there is need to create numerous plans for city’s sustainability. This initiative has brought many major organizations, businesses, religious, educational and medical institutions from the city to come forward with their own projects as part of their passionate effort to preserve the glorious city and its natural resources and also celebrating the foundation day.”
EcoSikh’s other projects include plantation drives, water reuse projects and water harvesting; adopting streets and roundabouts; special efforts for organic farming, reviving bio-diversity etc.
“In India, EcoSikh’s major focus will remain on Punjab, where we are launching many projects involving and encouraging the stakeholders to participate in making tangible efforts to make Amritsar clean and green by 2017, when the city will be 440 years old. Our other focus in India is on Nanded. Soon we will be heading for sustainable plans for Nankana Sahib and Kartarpur in Pakistan,” informed Ravneet. firstname.lastname@example.org