Sikh women holding the traditional Sikh symbol known as the khanda, symbolizing the Sikh tradition of meeri and peeri--a deep spiritual connection to the Divine as well as a responsibility to serve humanity here and now. Photo: EcoSikh
Over 250 Sikh temples, schools and organizations across the world today are inaugurating the first Sikh Environment Day, taking part in mass planting of trees, installing solar panels, encouraging eco-friendly farming methods and more. The event (parts of which will take place over the coming week) has been embraced by the highest levels of the Sikh authority.
Giani Gurbachan Singh, leader of the Sikhs' major decision-making body, the Akal Takht, connected this week's event with Sikh's traditional beliefs:
The Creator has created a vast variety of flora and fauna to maintain ecological balance on this earth. Whenever we try to modify the creation, it loses its balance and we face disastrous earthquakes, floods, and droughts. It is due to this disturbance in ecology that the environmentally sensitive people of the world are celebrating Environment Day.
March 14th was chosen as it marks the day when Guru Har Rai (pictured below) took over from Guru Nanak to become the seventh Sikh Guru.
Painting of the 7th Sikh guru, Guru Har Ri Ji and the animal sanctuary and medicinal garden he kept in the city of Kiratpur, just as the foot of the Himalayas. Guru Har Ri Ji is remembered in the Sikh tradition for his deep sensibility to the natural world and its preservation. Image: Meeri Peeri Khalsa.
Commenting on the importance of Sikh Environment Day, Program Manager for EcoSikh Bandana Kaur notes:
In the fields of agriculture, education, communications, health and business, Sikhs are leaders with a tremendous potential to move to the head of the curve in the field of the environment, in line with our religious teachings. the natural demands of our planet will require us to restructure our lives in a more sustainable manner, which in the end will not only benefit ecology and society but help us build a more robust and innovative economy based on the protection of our natural resources.
More information on Sikh Environment Day is available from EcoSikh.
A good basic overview of how the Sikh religion has traditionally view nature is available from: Alliance of Religions and Conservation
More on Sikhism:
Sikh Leader Tells Followers Protecting Environment Their Moral & Religious Duty