For the first time, an Indian Sikh has held an exhibition at Guru Nanak's birthplace displaying the images of sacred trees in Sikhism after which nearly 60 Gurudwaras have been named in India and Pakistan. The exhibition has been put up in the main parikrama of the Nankana Sahib Gurudwara, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, the founder of the Sikh religion. The exhibition, inaugurated last Friday by retired Indian IAS officer DS Jaspal, comprises 21 panels. Each panel has an image of the sacred tree from Jaspal's book 'Tryst with Trees', along with a brief description of its botanical features, its health status, as well as the relationship between the tree and the historical and religious background of the shrine. Prominent Sikhs, including members of the Pakistan Sigh Gurdwara Parbhandik Committee, attended the inauguration ceremony. Speaking on the occasion, Khalid Ali, Additional Secretary, Evacuee Property Trust Board Pakistan, said that the exhibition "sends a strong message not only for peace and religious harmony but also for nature and environment and, in particular, of the relevance of religion in promoting conservation efforts." Complimenting Jaspal for his pioneering research in documenting, with beautiful photographs, sacred Sikh shrines in India and Pakistan which are named after trees, Khalid said the exhibition will be of interest not only to Sikhs, but also to all nature lovers. In his pictorial book, Jaspal has documented with photographs 58 sacred Sikh shrines in India and Pakistan which are named after 19 species of trees, like Gurudwara Babe-di-Ber in Sialkot; Gurudwara Nim Sahib in Patiala; Gurudwara Tahli Sahib; Gurudwara Ritha Sahib; Gurudwara Amb Sahib; Gurudwara Imli Sahib; Gurudwara Pipli Sahib; Gurudwara Jand Sahib; Gurudwara Phalahi Sahib. According to Jaspal, although love and respect for nature and environment are common to every religious faith, the naming of sacred shrines after trees is unique to the Sikh religion. He pointed out that during the time of Guru Nanak, Nankana Sahib and its environs were thickly forested with hardy species like the Van, Jand and Phalahi which are now almost extinct. Guru Nanak would often retreat into the forest for meditation and to be in the company of saints and seers, he said. Jaspal, who has held exhibitions in New York, Washington, Oslo, Delhi, Chandigarh and Lahore travelled extensively in India and Pakistan over a period of three years to compile the material and photographs for his book.
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