Women’s Interfaith Virtual workshop- Wednesday 9th Feb 2021 ‘Repairing the World’

This Zoom Workshop gave the opportunity for a group of women from different faith backgrounds to get together to hear from representatives of the Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist communities of the initiatives and actions they have taken to help “Repair the World”

Suhasini explained that the ecosystem is made up of both living micro-organisms and non-living things and there is interaction between natural forces.  Humans live with nature and need to emphasise interdependence and nurture and not exploit the natural world.  The core values of Buddhism are mindfulness, not taking life and being compassionate towards everything.  There is a living Bodi tree from Sri Lanka in the Ilford Vihara to keep in touch with nature.  The community has participated in “Keep Britain Tidy” Campaigns litter picking in the vicinity and also made practical changes such using paper food bags rather than plastic.

Pratibha explained that the faith seeks to be in equilibrium with nature and gave an example of a move to gas fired crematoriums in India instead of the traditional wood burning ones.  This is to prevent further deforestation of areas which can often lead to mud-slips and other disasters – there has also been a move to plant more trees.  Locally the VHP Temple has installed LED lights, taken care to preserve trees when putting up a new boundary fence, turfed over a concrete area outside and planted trees.  They are planning to start composting vegetable waste and refrain from using disposable tableware.

Jagdish explained that Sikhs believe that all individuals have a responsibility to protect the environment and there is a large eco Sikh organisation that is helping Gurdwaras to become Greener and reduce their impact on the environment.  Locally the Gurdwara has encouraged community members and students to participate in litter picking.  The Gurdwara uses metal and glass containers for serving food/drinks and left-over food is always distributed and not wasted.  A community member recently made a supply of reusable face masks.  In 2019 trees and plants were planted in the grounds to improve the environment.  Sikhs believe that real peace will come when individuals realise that God is found in the natural elements and stop damaging the world.

Practical actions to ” Repair the World” from a Sikh perspective

Sikh bike ridesUsing low polluting methods of transport helps the environment and keeps us fit – also brings us into contact with people from different backgrounds i.e. encourages championing of others’ views, even where they differ from our own and we do not agree with them.  This way of thinking is central to Sikhi.   http://citysikhs.org.uk/event/annual-birmingham-to-london-saca-charity-bike-ride/    https://www.sikhhelpline.com/charity-bike-ride-2019/   
Green GurudwarasThis is a grassroots movement led by gurudwaras that choose to reduce their impact on their enviornment   http://www.ecosikh.org/programmes/green-gurdwaras/
Use of stainless steel cups, plates and cutlery 
Ecosikhhttp://www.ecosikh.org/programmes/sikh-environment-day/  http://www.ecosikh.org/  UK link   http://environment-ecology.com/religion-and-ecology/331-ecosikh-movement.html  
Major problem with agricultural models in the world   Farmers march to Delhi-a very recent example of the exploitation involved in modern farming methods. https://www.sikhpa.com/sikhs-lead-farmers-march-on-delhi-amid-ongoing-protests/ 

The women were invited to join break out rooms and have small group discussions and then came together to share what they had found inspiring and if there were any personal changes they would be making.  Several women decided they would try composting vegetable peelings in future.  All agreed that small steps were the key to permanent change and were very interested to hear about a new Edible Garden Project being launched by Transition Town Ilford.  This will offer local residents containers and seeds to grow edible plants in their front gardens and share with neighbours.

One member shared that it is possible to sponsor a tree to be planted in memory of a loved one in a public park  – see this link if interested https://www.redbridge.gov.uk/our-streets/council-trees/

Or contact Valentines Park Manager on simon.litt@visionrcl.org.uk

Redbridge Faith Forum would like to thank Ruth Musgrave for her help in organising this event and the respective speakers who shared so willingly.