Sikh saint Sewa Singh brings environmental message to Metro Vancouver
A Sikh saint who has spearheaded a campaign to plant trees in the memory of murdered fellow Sikhs is in Vancouver at the invitation of the Climate Action Network.
Sewa Singh chose to plant trees to commemorate those killed following the assassination of Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984. He has also been invited to Metro Vancouver by local Sikhs.
In Delhi and New Delhi alone, approximately 4,000 Sikhs were murdered in November 1984 by goons who supported the Congress Party.
Gandhi was shot to death by her bodyguards, who sought revenge for the controversial Operation Bluestar.
Gandhi had ordered the military operation in June 1984 to flush out religious extremists, who had fortified the Golden Temple complex, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs.
On the 25th anniversary of the pogrom that took place in Congress-ruled states of India, Sewa Singh launched his campaign to plant a huge number of trees in India.
He's doing this in partnership with Harvinder Singh Phoolka, a senior lawyer, who is representing victims of the anti-Sikh violence.
Phoolka and journalist Manoj Mitta cowrote a book about the 1984 massacre called When a Tree Shook Delhi.
"So far, 10,000 trees have been planted in Delhi," Sewa Singh told the Georgia Straight.
His centre in Khadoor Sahib, Punjab sent the saplings to Delhi.
"The idea is to conquer hate with love," he added.
Though Sewa Singh has been involved in green initiatives for many years, this campaign was the brainchild of Phoolka.
"It was he who suggested that we should plant trees," Sewa Singh said. "As nature does not discriminate between the people on the basis of religion, we wanted to send across a message of human bonding through this campaign."
Quoting the Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scriptures of the Sikhs, Sewa Singh said that the Sikh religion teaches people to love the mother earth and protect its natural resources. "The founder of Sikhism, Sri Guru Nanak Dev, had equated the air with teacher, water with father, and the earth with mother."
His centre has a nursery where plants of medicinal and nutritional value are grown on a large scale.
Sewa Singh had earlier visited Toronto and will be addressing the local Indo-Canadian community at the Grand Taj Banquet Hall in Surrey on Sunday (January 3) at 3 p.m.