Many religious groups have taken on the role of environmental custodians, citing scriptures that urge living in harmony with plants and animals. The Sikh religion’s contribution to that effort is called “EcoSikh.” With 30 million followers, Sikhism (a religion based in the Punjab region of India) is the world’s fifth largest religion, making them a perfect candidate for environmental action.
Already, EcoSikh has made a big impact. The organization started Sikh Environmental Day on every March 14th. “Local Sikhs make the decision based on the awareness and needs of where they live,” explained Bandana Kaur, EcoSikh’s North American program manager. “Sikhs, Muslims and Sufis were working together on restoration projects. This past year, there was a school in Hariyana [in Punjab] that started a tree nursery within their school.”
The program has also been successful in making Amritsar, a holy city in the Sikh religion, more eco-friendly. EcoSikh has begun to help the city become more green. “Considering the amount of food that Sikhs are growing, cooking, and serving to people, we also see the potential for [community kitchens] to serve organic food, which would have a positive impact on our health, our land and the region’s farmers… Amritsar made a decision last year to install 30 concentrated solar dishes to capture energy from the sun to fuel heat for cooking, replacing about half of the liquid petroleum gas used…with a renewable resource.
Bandana Kaur concludes hopefully, “My great-grandmother used to say one thing a lot: “Kudrat bari beant hai.” That translates directly as “The Creative Force is so limitless,” and it basically means, ‘Nature is so generous.’ That sensitivity is inspiring for our generation. It’s been incredibly powerful for me.”
Want to learn more? Read the full interview: Harnessing religious teachings about stewardship to protect the planet – an interview with Sikh activist Bandana Kaur