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World Interfaith Harmony Week Celebrated in St. Petersburg

Russia-2019-02-06-World Interfaith Harmony Week Observed in St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg, Russia—World Interfaith Harmony Week 2019 once again united the efforts of creative friends and new contacts of UPF in the city of St. Petersburg.

On February 6, immediately after a series of informative visits to the houses of worship of various faiths, our friends created a warm and cozy atmosphere for interfaith communication and creativity.

Representatives of various countries and religious denominations, people of faith and those who trust the voice of their own conscience took part in a meeting titled "Peace and Creativity."

At the meeting there were no spectators; everyone took part in one way or another: Authors' verses and popular songs about values uniting all people sounded from the stage. The language of dance and folk art turned out to be universal—and understandable even to our foreign guests.

Professor Lev Semashko, a philosopher and sociologist and the honorary president of the Global Union of Harmony, told the participants about Mahatma Gandhi’s contribution to the cause of peace and recited a poem to his memory. This year the whole world is celebrating the 150th anniversary of this great peacemaker’s birth.

Guests from Japan created a special atmosphere of enthusiasm and youthful optimism as they sang songs and gave a small dance workshop.

The deacon of the Korean Presbyterian Church charged the audience with the Christian spirit of all-embracing love.

A sweet note of kindness and humor was introduced by Alexander Banshchikov, a participant in the international Mister and Miss University 2019 pageant, when he recited his own poems.

The meeting was initiated by the St. Petersburg chapters of UPF and Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP), an affiliated organization, with the support of the Bridge of Peace international project.

Economic successes of the prosperous countries cause envy among the residents of less developed countries; achievements of the defense industry cause fear; differences in religious views create a pretext for wariness, alienation and even aggression. Only art and creativity, from the beginnings of history, are intended to glorify the divine in nature and humans, elevate the traditional values of family, love, unity, and friendship. Creativity can awaken lofty feelings, erasing the boundaries of religion, allowing one to forget about fear and envy. It is creativity with its national, cultural color that gives rise to genuine interest in unfamiliar things that a moment ago seemed alien and dangerous.

Without saying a word to each other, almost all the participants of the event expressed in their work their relationship with the Creator in the language of their faith, surprisingly understandable to everyone else. We can understand each other, only if we want it!

Thirty-one participants in the meeting managed to create an island of interfaith peace and creativity.

Many thanks to the meeting’s creative team:

Natalia Chigrina, the secretary general of the Universal Peace Federation in St. Petersburg and the author of poems and songs;

Nina Kosareva, a poetess, member of the Writers' Union, and a family counselor;

Natalia Chuistova – head of the local chapter of Women’s Federation for World Peace and our wonderful choreographer who could easily teach anyone to dance.

Special thanks to Natalia Dudareva, who provided photos and beautiful poems!

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