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World Interfaith Harmony Week Observed in Malaysia

Petaling Jaya, Malaysia - From the melodious chiming of kuil temple bells in Kuala Lumpur to the azan call of prayer at a mosque in Putrajaya, 52 pilgrims immersed themselves in Malaysia’s vibrantly diverse socioreligious fabric.

Organized by UPF-Malaysia to honor the United Nations’ World Interfaith Harmony Week, the “Peace and Harmony Tour” on February 7, 2015, started with a visit to a Hindu temple in the metropolitan city of Kuala Lumpur, continued to an Anglican church in the adjacent town of Petaling Jaya, and culminated in a grand tour of a famed mosque in the federal administrative capital of Putrajaya.

Among the participants were 19 students of mixed Korean-Japanese parentage for whom the daylong pilgrimage was a deeply enriching cultural experience providing them a flavor of Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam — three religions with large followings in Malaysia.

At Sri Kandaswamy Temple in Kuala Lumpur’s “Little India” Brickfields district, many of the pilgrims understood for the first time the intricate symbolism behind the stone deities and the elaborate rituals by which Hindus acknowledge the one God as king of kings, as explained by the temple guide Dr. K. Thilaga-wathi. When the sacred fire was brought out to them by the high priest, the pilgrims devoutly purified their minds by sweeping the flames up to their faces. UPF-Malaysia President Tan Sri Dr. Devaki Krishnan arranged the visit, which ended with breakfast hosted by the temple committee.

At St. Paul’s Church in Petaling Jaya, Rev. Joshua Ong, the church vicar, briefed the pilgrims and stressed the importance of finding commonalities in addition to knowing the differences between religions. He praised the efforts of UPF Founder Dr. Sun Myung Moon to promote intercultural marriages as a way to break down ethnic barriers.

On to Masjid Besi, Putrajaya’s new, “iron-clad” mosque, which can hold more than 20,000 people. We arrived with time to spare before the zuhur prayers. By a special arrangement that UPF-Malaysia Council Member Mahadi Mohd had made with the mosque committee, the pilgrims were given the rare experience of a field trip practical. After the ablution, or washing, of one’s feet, arms, face, mouth, nose and hair to augment a cleansing of the mind, the pilgrims entered the hall to observe the congregational prayer and to emulate the Muslims in their physical movements that denote the focusing of attention on God, and the act of un-focusing or returning their attention to the world at the conclusion of prayer. Then followed a lively question-and-answer session conducted by Dr. Sayyid Hussain, assisted by master of ceremonies Tuan Ibrahim Mohd, who emphasized that the primary teaching of Islam is the oneness of God and humankind, and our duty of submission to God. The mosque hosted lunch for the pilgrims.

Back at the Peace Embassy in Petaling Jaya, from where the tour had started, the pilgrims renewed their pledge to embrace “Love of the Good, and Love of the Neighbor”—one of the mottos of World Interfaith Harmony Week—before departing for home in the evening.

 

Interfaith Harmony Week 2015 from Universal Peace Federation International

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