ANNUAL WORLD INTERFAITH HARMONY WEEK WAS CELEBRATED
By Acharya S.P.Dwivedi
All over the world interfaith organizations, faith institutions, educational establishments and private groups have been celebrating, the first week of February, as World Interfaith Harmony Week since 2011. HM King Abdullah II of Jordan first proposed in UN, September 2010 and later in December 2010 it was unanimously passed by UNO.
Interfaith dialogue refers to cooperative, constructive, and positive interaction between people of different religious traditions and spiritual beliefs or humanistic beliefs, at both the individual and institutional levels.
Interfaith is not an 'alternative faith' or new religion but it is basically aimed to promote respect, understanding, foster inter religious - cross cultural dialogue and encourage social cohesion. Violence, hatred, greed and selfishness created enormous problems in this world; and we do have to strengthen our common religious values-' love for neighbor', 'kindness and compassion' and 'respect and service to others' to create peaceful environment through our interfaith dialogue. We should not forget that 'we belong to one race-'human race' and all are equal.
The first initiative of interfaith dialogue was carried by Parliament of the World's Religions at the World Columbian Expositions, Chicago 1983 and since then, time to time, many organizations have been formed to nurture interfaith.
The Global Clergy Association of Canada has been celebrating it since 2012 and this year it was celebrated on February 2,2019 in collaboration with Northwood United Church,8855-156 St, Surrey who hosted the event. A conference was arranged with devotional songs, prayers; and Acharya S.P.Dwivedi coordinated and emceed the program. Rev.Scott Turnbrook of the host church welcomed the guests and Connie Waterman read the blessings behalf of Wendy Bonazew of the First Nations.
The theme of the conference was ‘How Do We Counter Hatred an Interfaith World?’ and Dr. J.Das (Kabir Panth), Dr. Suresh Kurl (Hindu Dharma), Dr. Rabbi Laura Duhan Kaplan (Judaism), Rev.Scott Turnbrook (Christianity) and Imam Tariq Azeem (Islam) reflected on the basis of their faiths. All the speakers agreed upon the need for serious inter religious dialogue to overcome hatred and enmity which are created by intolerant and misguided religious leaders. They thoroughly prepared the topic and cited the scriptural verses to buttress their arguments which was appreciated by the people. Anand Jain (Jain Dharna), Connie Waterman (Bahai) and Firdosh Mehta (Zoroastrian) recited the peace prayers. The young and talented students of Naad Foundation and devotees of ISKON presented devotional songs and chants that created immense spiritual vibrations.
The speakers, as a token of appreciation, were honored by Acharya Dwivedi and Arun Chatterjee (VP of GCA). Arun thanked the speakers, spiritual leaders, students and their parents, Northwood United Church for hospitality and guests. The closing prayer was offered by Rev. Scott Turnbrook and all were entertained, at the end, with refreshment. The Interfaith Celebration hosted at Northwood on February 2nd was a rich and meaningful opportunity to gather and hear from a tapestry of religious leaders speaking on the topic of "Countering Hatred in an Interfaith World". We also heard spiritual songs and were touched by prayers from different faith traditions.
Thanks to everyone who came, participated and united in this interfaith harmony celebration. Events continue throughout the week. We have posted a few of the pictures of this blessed event. See you next year!