International Peace Day
21 September 2008, UK
21 September has been declared by the United Nations General Assembly as an International Day of Peace.
This year, the day was celebrated by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, an affiliate of the UN’s Economic and Social Council, at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London. The special evening assembly began with the traditional deep pragatya (lighting of the lamp), followed by the Shanti-path. This ancient Vedic prayer was beautifully sung in Sanskrit by four young balaks of London Bal Mandal.
A short speech by the sadhus gave a brief insight into what we can do to support peace.
This message was reinforced with a video presentation depicting how His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj has touched the lives of millions with his peace-inspiring work. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had described him as “a Messenger of Peace”.
Young 13-year-old Kush came to speak next. He read out a piece in fluent English titled, “If I Had My Way…”. In it, he shared his thoughts about how he would like the world to be. He said: “If I had my way, the world would be full of peace. No fighting. No arguments. Everyone would be friends. … We are all One Family. So why should we fight? We are all brothers and sisters – children of a loving, Almighty God. We should live together – happily and in harmony. And like they say in stories: ‘… and they all lived happily ever after!’ Please God: make this world happen.” The simple, prayerful words of the balak were both touching and inspiring.
Thereafter, everyone joined in silence to pray for all fellow humans who were suffering in war-torn, conflict-stricken zones, from natural disasters, and for those who had lost their lives or been injured because of acts of terrorism.
Similar prayers were also conducted earlier in the day when 410 boys and girls aged between 5 and 15 along with 80 volunteers had gathered at the Mandir for Bal-Balika Mandal. As part of the International Peace Day, all the children joined in a short ceremony to collectively pray for world peace and to spare a thought for those less fortunate than ourselves. In their classrooms, all the children learnt about the importance of maintaining peace and being good, harmonious and friendly citizens of society.
In thus observing International Peace Day, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha affirmed its support of a shared vision of our world at peace and in harmony, and its commitment to converting these noble aspirations into a reality – for us, our children, and for many more generations to come.
Aum Shantihi, Shantihi, Shantihi!