Guru Nanak's Hymn on Nature at an International Conference

Guru Nanak's hymn celebrating nature was sung at the inauguration of the global network of pilgrim cities in Assisi...

Guru Nanak's hymn celebrating nature was sung at the inauguration of the global network of pilgrim cities in Assisi, Italy, in front of over 200 delegates and guests. The hymn called Aarti is recited by Sikhs at night as a concluding prayer of the day.

As legend has it, in 1508 CE Guru Nanak Dev visited the famous temple of Jagannath at Puri in Orrisa, which was very well known for its arti (worship of the idols) . In the evening, priests brought a platter full of many lighted lamps, flowers, incense and pearls and began the arti. Guru Nanak Sahib meanwhile spontaneously gave words to the wonderful arti which was being hummed by Nature before the invisible altar of God, the creator of this universe:

Gagan mein thaal rav chand dipak bane,
tarika mandal janak moti,
dhoop malyanlo pavan chavro kare saal banray phulant joti,
kaisi arti hoye bhav khandna teri arti. (Ang 663)
The sky is puja thaal (platter used for the artis), in which sun and moon are the diyas (lamps)
The stars in the constellations are the jewels
The wind, laden with sandal-wood fragrance, is the celestial fans
All the flowering fields, forests are radiance! What wonderful worship this is,
oh! Destroyer of fear, THIS is your arti!
- This is contained in the Guru Granth Sahib, the Sikh scriptures.

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Rajwant Singh singing Aarti. Organizers had created a scene of Stars in the sky picturing Guru Nanak's hymn. (Sikh Symbol in the background)

Inaugural conference of Green Pilgrim Network (GPN) organized by Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) was held in Assisi, Italy recently. ARC has brought together major faiths of the world to form a Green network of pilgrimage cities across the globe. In this inaugural conference 11 world pilgrim cities of different faiths participated including Amritsar represented by Sikhs at Assisi.

The conference began with procession from basilica of St Francis, Assisi led by Royal Princess Michael, Duke of Kent. In addition, religious leaders of major faiths in their traditional robes and attires joined the procession. Representatives of faiths included Sikhs, Baha'is , Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Dao of China, Mongolian Buddhist, Church of Armenian, St. Albans, Anglican Church, Jews, Shinto from Japan and Muslims representing cities of their faiths in the inaugural gathering. High-school children from Assisi carried the flags containing symbols of different religions. Sikh religion was represented in the procession by S. Dalmegh Singh, Secretary Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) along with Mr. Kahan Singh Pannu, IAS, Chairman Punjab Pollution Control Board PPCB, Dr. Rajwant Singh, President EcoSikh from Washington DC and Ravneet Pal Singh, EcoSikh Project Manager from India.

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Delegates at the Inaugural conference of Green Pilgrimage Network in Assisi, Italy. Her Royal Highness Princess Michael of Kent is in the middle in the front row.

The colorful and impressive procession culminated at the conference hall where prayers by leaders of different faiths were recited. Dr. Rajwant Singh recited the hymns of Aarti from the Sikh scriptures, Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the assembly, signifying the importance of nature in the universe. Amritsar, the city of Golden Temple is the only Indian city of pilgrimage to join the green network so far. SGPC has been instrumental in the matter of joining the green network spearheaded by EcoSikh.


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