Safar Conference in VancouverBANDANA KAUR
Today in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, the Sikh Feminist Research Institute hosts a conference titled Our Journeys 2012.
It will explore the interaction between Sikhi and gender, through research, activism and praxis.
Sikh women’s issues and ecological issues are inherently interlinked, especially to the understanding that the Gurus saw earth as a manifestation of the Creator for humans to practice dharam, and not something humanity should misuse for its own needs.
Hence, this year will include a focus on the Sikh vision for the planet. Which will include a focus on reducing waste through the use of onsite recycling facilities for paper and plastic products, and commitment to using compostable plates, cups, and cutlery made from bagasse material, sourced from sustainable sorghum and sugarcane plants.
This use of biodegradable materials not only reduces the amount of material being sent to our landfills; it also ensures and reaffirms our commitment to sourcing the materials we use in a way that reduces harm to existing resources.
The langar during the conference will be served on traditional steel thaalis (plates), which will be brought to the gurdwara to be washed. We continue to honor the tradition of gurdwaras in Punjab and South Asia and around the world to use materials that can be washed by hand through the spirit of seva -- eliminating waste and emphasizing selfless service of one another.
The conference is being held at the University of British Columbia’s Center for Interactive Research on Sustainability (CIRS), a state of the art environmental building designed for research and education on urban sustainability. The facility is equipped with rooftop rainwater harvesting, natural and energy-efficient lighting, natural ventilation and airflow, grey water reclamation and reuse, energy systems monitoring, and sustainably harvested wood for the building’s structure and base.
In honoring the Sikh Gurus’ connection all the Creation, the legacy of our past generations of living in harmony with the earth, and the challenges that environmental degradation present to women and other marginalized peoples throughout the world, the Safar committee hopes that attendees will have a
deeper appreciation for the ecological traditions in Sikhi after attending the conference, and take practices that respect our planet to our gurdwaras, schools, communities, and homes.
If anything, we walk away from the weekend with a deeper reflection on what it means to live in harmony with the Earth through the philosophy of Guru Nanak and to embody the wisdom of our Guru’s words written in Japji Sahib nearly five centuries ago: pavan guru paani pita maata dharat mahat - “‘Air is our teacher, Water our father, Earth the great mother of all.’
Though nurturing a feminist vision, this conference is not meant for women alone.
“Although there are some males who have entered academia, many more have been pursuing other professions such as medical, legal, business, etc.” says activist Pardeep Singh Nagra.
“While this is also true for females, they are the vanguard in leading the way in academia in a variety of disciplines and bringing their Sikhi perspectives with them. They have taken it even further by organizing SAFAR and creating not only an inclusive space for both genders which we as men consistently have failed to do, they are also trying to make it very accessible with a PWYC (Pay What You Can) registration process. So don't be intimidated by the host name - SAFAR - The Sikh Feminist Research Institute. They have taken the Sikh approach and spirit of sangat with the endevour to be inclusive, and accessible to all.”
Indeed, it is an opportunity for scholars and community members alike -- men and women -- to connect, converse and engage in dialogue and critical thinking.
For more information, please CLICK here.
October 27, 2012