One Million Trees to Mark Guru Nanak Dev’s 550th Birth Anniversary

The year 2019 marked the 550th gurpurab, or anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak Dev Jee, the first Sikh Guru and founder of the Sikh faith. (Gurpurab is a compound of the word purab, meaning festival or celebration, and guru, which means “light dispelling darkness”.)

The celebrations of the 550th gurpurab of Guru Nanak will last from November 2019 to November 2020 with events throughout the world. Sikhs around the globe have been celebrating in gurudwaras, holding seminars and kirtans (hymn recitals) to spread Guru Nanak’s message of universal fraternity and peace while the government of Pakistan issued a special stamp to commemorate this 550th gurpurab

EcoSikh, based in Washington DC, chose to mark Guru Nanak’s 550th birth anniversary with its One Million Trees project – by planting 550 trees in 1,820 different locations around the world. EcoSikh UK stepped up to the challenge, organising tree-planting activities in several locations, including Derbyshire on 30 November 2019. On this crisp Saturday, 52 members of the Sikh Sangat (congregation) from Gurdwara Sahib Ramgarhia Sabha, Derby, planted 550 trees in the Young People’s Forest at Shipley Country Park. The event was covered prominently by regional media, including the East Midlands News and Radio Derby.

On the day, more than 1,000 volunteers also turned up and planted more than 15,000 trees as part of the Woodland Trust’s “Big Climate Fightback” campaign. According to Dr Hardeep Singh of EcoSikh UK, “We are planning to plant 5,000 next year, with the aspiration of planting 50,000 over five years.” Hardeep added, “We’re just in the process of contacting the Woodland Trust to discuss next year’s bigger tree-planting project.” Hardeep explained that according to Sikh scripture, “air is the Guru, water is the father and the earth is the mother”. Tree-planting purifies the air and supplies oxygen, evaporation from the leaves supplies all living things with rainwater, and the roots stabilise the Earth. Seen through a spiritual lens, the taller the tree, the deeper the roots, which indicates the value of humility. Governments need humility to acknowledge the effects of environmentally damaging policies and to tackle the climate crisis effectively.

Faith for the Climate congratulates EcoSikh UK, who are part of our Building Capacity project, for this fantastic effort. According to EcoSikh UK’s Amandeep Kaur Mann, this relationship is valuable for many reasons. “We have been supported by knowledge-sharing and advice from the network as well as making lots of friendly contacts,” she said.

All pictures published with the permission of EcoSikh UK