Jayanti - PEACE CC Members participate in World Inter-faith Harmony week during February first week at Colombo

9 March 2015

Peace CC members Jayanti and Suhas joined several other CC members of different URIs and scholars from different parts of the world to celebrate Inter-faith Harmony week at Colombo during first week of February 2015. As part of the occasion, sixth international conference on Holy books was organized by Dr. Alexander Mar Thoma Centre for Dialogue, Kottarakkara and Cosmic Community Centre, Karickam with local support of Sarvodaya santhi Sena CC, Colombo in which 125 delegates participated.

The theme of the conference 'Eco-spirituality' perfectly suited the pollution free, beautiful green sprawling 25 acre campus with lakes, valleys, array of plantations, gardens where we were put up. The beauty of nature clubbed with delegates from varied faiths enhanced our consciousness to delve into the subject matter of protecting the common environment through religious pluralism. While we are divided in our identities through religion or otherwise, we live in the same environment that has a single identity; it is product of Mother Earth and creation of one God. Therefore, naturally through this environment we are connected with one another through our primary identity; we are children of the same Mother Earth and we have individual and joint responsibility of preserving and protecting her environment. This was reflected in more than 20 papers presented by extra-ordinary scholars during the two days of the conference. Our paper titled, 'Green Spirituality through the lens of Vedic Scriptures' focused on simplistic consciousness based paradigm(earth as sentient being) over mechanistic model of earth planet and its application at practical level.

 The keynote address was delivered by Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne, the Magsaysay award recipient fondly called as Sri Lankan Gandhi who is also the founder of Sarvodaya Movement in Sri Lanka. He emphasized that religion is meant to unite people at every level-regional, national and international. For this he said, it is essential to build a society based on spiritual values and that one must earn in the righteous way. We could learn so much by interacting with him and his people in the field who are applying faith and spirituality at grass root level to tackle social issues.

Rev. Dr. Victor Kazanjian Executive Director of URI in his inaugural speech emphasized that such a gathering assumes importance in the present scenario when every second day, we find some news related to either religious intolerance or religiously motivated violence or hatred in different parts of world and it is in the midst of these disturbances that we are able to walk side by side

The inter-faith bridge build between the delegates during two days of paper presentations was further taken to the next level to sustain the bonding through field visits to temples and heritage cities like Kandy and Galle on following two days. It was an education on inter-faith work at grass root level. Experiences and successful real time episodes were shared by centre members/leaders of different faiths like Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Christianity that encouraged the delegates to support the cause and get involved more enthusiastically in inter-faith work. The field visit finally concluded in the evening with a visit to an important historic place, the Independence Memorial Hall that has cultural significance in the history of Sri Lanka.

On the whole the holy books conference and field visits at Colombo as part of interfaith Harmony week was a perfect blend of environment, academic, inter-faith, historic, spiritual and cultural gathering. We felt fortunate to be part of this inter-faith gathering and could learn so much from wonderful URI members across the world especially those who hosted us at Colombo.

We are thankful to Dr. Abraham Karickam, the chief coordinator of the program who brought together members from six nations. We benefited by their association and practically saw how a conference was transformed to a wonderful inter-faith community gathering.