UN observes World Cities Day, global action call to turn cities into engines of sustainable development

World Cities Day. Photo Caption: UN-Habitat/Kirsten Milhahn

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New York: Marking World Cities Day on Tuesday, the UN Secretary-General emphasised the vital role cities play in sustainable development as catalysts for economic growth and innovation.

“World Cities Day is a time to consider the pivotal role cities play in sustainable development,” said António Guterres, setting the stage for a global call to action.

Cities, he noted, are not only engines of economic growth but are also at the forefront of the world’s most pressing challenges. From the climate crisis to widening social inequalities and political polarization, cities find themselves grappling with a multitude of complex issues.

1.1 billion in slums

Cities, towns and their surrounding areas act as powerful magnets for innovation, culture and opportunities, alluring both talent and investment.

Today, urban living has already been embraced by more than half of the world’s population, and UN Habitat projections indicate that nearly 70 per cent of people will live in cities by 2050.

While cities generate more than 80 percent of the global GDP, create powerful networks of entrepreneurship and business growth and give ample opportunities for talents development, they can turn into an inequality trap, with overcrowding, pollution, poor infrastructure and social injustice.

Approximately 1.1 billion people live in slums and informal settlements in urban areas, which entrenches poverty and limits opportunities.

Hundreds of quintals of meticulously selected flowers adorned the entire path leading to the sanctum sanctorum, known as Darshani Deori, and even the walls of the revered Akal Takht. As the day unfolded, the vibrant colors and sweet fragrances of these blossoms converged to create an enchanting ambiance, inviting one and all to partake in the profound spirituality and rich history of this remarkable place.

The sanctum sanctorum of Sri Darbar Sahib, also known as the Golden Temple, transformed into a magnificent spectacle of ‘Jalau’ (grandeur) when the devout gather to commemorate the birth anniversary of Guru Ram Das Ji, the fourth Sikh Guru.

This annual celebration is a profound testament to the deep reverence and admiration the Sikh community holds for Guru Ram Das Ji, who was not only a spiritual luminary but also a prolific architect and builder of the sacred Harmandir Sahib, famously known as the Golden Temple. The exquisite display of ‘Jalau’ in his honor is nothing short of breathtaking, featuring an array of priceless treasures.

At the heart of this showcase is the Naulakha necklace, a true masterpiece of craftsmanship and opulence. This necklace, adorned with the most exquisite jewels, represents a symbol of devotion and devotion to the Guru. It glistens in the golden light of the temple, casting a mesmerizing spell on all who gaze upon it.

Accompanying this splendid exhibit is a kirpan, a ceremonial sword, also bedecked with precious gems and jewels. This kirpan symbolizes the Sikh warrior spirit and the commitment to righteousness and justice. Its presence is a reminder of Guru Ram Das Ji’s teachings, emphasizing the importance of standing up for truth and justice.

As one gazes upon the sanctum sanctorum, the golden canopy and doors stand tall and resplendent. These structures are not mere architectural marvels but represent the unwavering faith and devotion of the Sikh community. The intricate detailing and the golden hue symbolize purity and spirituality, welcoming all who enter with open arms.

One of the most enchanting elements of the ‘Jalau’ is the turquoise peacock embellished with blue diamonds. This stunning piece of artistry not only exemplifies the artistic talents of the Sikh community but also symbolizes Guru Ram Das Ji’s teachings of grace and spirituality. The peacock, a majestic and spiritually significant bird, has been meticulously crafted with blue diamonds that shimmer like the clear sky on a sunny day.

Beyond the individual elements, this showcase is a true testament to the Sikh culture’s rich heritage and the enduring legacy of Guru Ram Das Ji. It is an opportunity for devotees and visitors alike to immerse themselves in the spirituality and history that surrounds the Golden Temple.