When Guru Har Rai became the seventh Guru of the Sikhs in March 1644, he brought with him a legacy of a sincere appreciation of the natural environment, an appreciation that we are rediscovering today. As our society at-large is becoming more aware about environmental issues, it is timely that Sikhs explore the ethos enshrined in our teachings about our relationship with nature.
On this anniversary during the past two years, EcoSikh, a non-profit organization (whose stated mission is to connect “Sikh values, beliefs, and institutions to the most important environmental issues facing our world”), has been promoting the annual commemoration as Sikh Vatavaran Diwas, or Sikh Environment Day. In honor of Guru Har Rai’s fondness for the natural world, the international annual celebration is held to raise awareness about environmental issues among Sikhs across the globe:
From divaans to tree plantings, to installing solar panels to hosting workshops, from gardening to hearing stories from our elders, the day is a time for Sikhs to celebrate their connection with the environment.
This year marks the third year of this event, which has grown significantly in its first two iterations in 2011 and 2012. EcoSikh provides toolkits and resources for local communities to participate in this celebration in a variety of ways. Beyond just a day to become more aware of environmental concerns, the celebration during the week of March 14 as Sikh Environment Day helps Sikhs to engage with our own tradition and philosophy about the sanctity of our natural world.
You can find resources and ideas to involve your community in this celebration at the EcoSikh website.