International Peace Day saw students, activists, and others come together at events in both countries
Observed annually the world over on September 21 the International Day of Peace holds special significance for India and Pakistan. Tensions at the government level continue to mar relations, while the people continue to call for normal, friendly ties.
Since July, volunteers – or peacemongers as some call them — have gathered thousands of signatures online as well as on the ground across India and Pakistan and in other countries for the Peace Now and Forever Campaign between India and Pakistan. Organisers plan to submit the resolution to the Prime Ministers of both countries.
Signatories include former generals, admirals and other military officers, film and sports personalities, political leaders, academics, activists, journalists, professionals, and eminent persons and thought leaders from all walks of life.
For International Day of Peace, the Peace Now and Forever Campaign coordinated by Confederation of Voluntary Associations (COVA) based in Hyderabad, India, facilitated several programmes by various groups around both countries. These events provided platforms to artists, youth, children, activists and members of different religious communities to raise a voice for peace, in Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Manipur, New Delhi, Saharanpur, Srinagar, Lahore and Karachi. Planned events in some other places could not take place due to heavy rains.
The events, say the organisers, aimed to:
- Sensitize people to the scale and devastation from violence in the world today,
- Demonstrate unity across different faiths in challenging violence in all forms and
- Use spirituality and religiosity to promote values of inclusion and peace, and counter the divisions and violence taking place in the name of religion.
Hundreds gathered for the prayers in front of the historic Charminar, in Hyderabad, India, joined by faith leaders of Christianity, Islam, Jainism, Hinduism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism. Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi who was expected to join the event was unable to attend as he had to turn back after being held up in traffic for over an hour and half.
In New Delhi, the Temple of Understanding India Foundation hosted a multi-religious prayer service at Ramayan Vidyapeeth, Lodhi Road. Dr. Karan Singh, MP and Founder Chairman of Temple of Understanding India Foundation presided over the event and welcomed religious leaders and other guests. Representatives of Baha’i Faith, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism offered greetings and recited prayers from their Holy Books. Dr. Singh also launched two books on Hindu-Muslim unity and peace.
The University of Science and Technology, Meghalaya, (USTM) Chancellor Dr. Mahbubul Hoque presided over an event that thousands of students participated in. Faith leaders of Christianity, Islam, Jainism and Sikhism recited prayers for peace.
In Mumbai, an event was held at the Astana of Makhdum Mahimi. Suhail Khandwani Managing Trustee Mahim Dargah was present along with religious leaders representing Christianity, Islam, Jainism and Sikhism. They recited from Holy Scriptures and prayed for peace.
The Peace Gong Jammu and Kashmir team organised a day-long event at a boarding school in Srinagar. Students discussed how youth can take the lead in promoting peace and how peace between communities can be fostered.
Hundreds of students and citizens participated in the event at GFG College, K.R. Puram, Bengaluru, starting with a long bell along the lines of the United Nations celebration protocol. They observed a minute of silence to pay respect to those who against all odds are still championing the cause of peace. The programme, including music and songs, concluded with participants tying peace bands on each other’s wrists.