On 15 August 2022, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Indian Independence, Religions for Peace (RfP) India organized an online event to promote interreligious harmony and understanding within the country.
The Youth Committee of RfP India commenced the celebration with an Interfaith Prayer for Peace.
Youth from various parts of the country, who follow different faith traditions, participated in the following order: Mr. Saksham Vishal Sood, recited the “Gayatri Mantra” as part of the Hindu faith tradition, Mr. Joel George Alex read from the Bible and explained the meaning of the Verses in the current context.
This was followed by Ms. Ayesha Samah who read from “Sura Al Anfal” and “Al Furqan” from the Holy Quran. Ms. Pearl Chawla recited “Ek Om Kar” as part of the Sikh faith tradition, Ms. Tseylha Wangdu recited two Buddhist chants, followed by a prayer by Mr. Arham Jain as per the Jain faith tradition.
Embodying the age-old slogan “Unity in Diversity” the prayer meet was concluded with a moment of silence.
Addressing the audience, Mr. N Vasudevan, Secretary-General of RfP India recalled various historic aspects of the nonviolent struggle for freedom under the leadership of Mahatma Gandhi; the enormous problems faced by the newly independent nation, and India’s remarkable achievements during the last 75 years as well as the challenges ahead.
Looking at the current situation in the country and the need for unity, he said, “India is an ancient, multi-cultural and multi-religious nation. There are bound to be differences. The best way to resolve and reconcile them is an interfaith, multi-religious approach of understanding and mutual tolerance. Respect for the Other is absolutely essential for peaceful and harmonious coexistence.”
His address was followed by a musical performance by Mr. Zuhaib Khan to capture the pluralistic values mentioned by Mr N Vasudevan.
Dr. Deepali Bhanot, shared her views stating “Peaceful existence and a harmonious relationship in a multi-faith, multi- cultural and multilingual society is based on four principles: respect, understanding, acceptance and appreciation of those who are different from us”.
Mr. Abdul Mabood reiterated “the present situation in India where the very foundation of multiculturalism, pluralism and interfaith values of Indian society are being systematically destroyed by regimes for the last about 8 years. It is time to stand firmly against ongoing onslaughts to save centuries old values of our society. It is the need of the hour to work persistently with people, particularly young people to revitalize our composite culture, plural values and interfaith understanding”.
Mr. Shameer Rishad, moderator for the event, delivered the closing remarks and thanked all the attendees. He said “I would like to thank the senior leadership of RfP India for presenting their thoughts on the important topic of interreligious harmony and I am also really happy that so many young people joined this celebration. I look forward to working with them in the future. Finally, a special thank you to Mr. Yoshida Tatsuya, member of the Tokyo Secretariat for joining our event all the way from Japan!”.
The event ended with a violin performance of the Indian National Anthem by Ms. Aditi Rao.