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Interfaith Harmony Week Commemorated in 3 Cities in Nepal

French

As thousands of Maoist fighters were being released from military cantonments where they had lived since 2006, religious leaders from eight faith traditions were commemorating the UN’s second annual World Interfaith Harmony Week in three cities of Nepal.

In 2010 the United Nations adopted a resolution that the first week of February each year be dedicated to interreligious harmony. The President of the 66th General Assembly, H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, acknowledged that faith-based organizations play a vital role in the mediation of conflict because they contribute spiritual qualities such as “tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation” to peace-building.

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In Nepal, the UPF held programs in Kathmandu (the capital), Chitwan (home of Chitwan National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and Pokhara (Nepal’s second largest city and a major tourist destination). This is the second year that UPF-Nepal held such celebrations.

Kathmandu

The largest program was in Kathmandu, where UPF-Nepal partnered with Religions for Peace-Nepal at an event on February 5 that gathered 160 participants in the prestigious Nepal Academy in the center of the city.

The Chief Guest for this event was the former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Kul Chandra Gautam. He noted, “We (Nepalese) feel shy to say that we are from the country where Gautama Buddha was born as some of our political leaders are still claiming that they will bring change in Nepal through the power of the gun.”

The former UN diplomat put out a call for action, saying, “Religious leaders have to play a proactive role to bring about peace, as politicians cannot bring it about by themselves.”

Congressman Ek Nath Dhakal, a member of the Constituent Assembly and the President of UPF-Nepal, explained that UPF is advocating for reforming the United Nations by including an interreligious council as part of the UN body. Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of UPF, first called for such council in August 2000 in an address at the UN headquarters in New York, USA.

The President for Religions for Peace-Nepal, Mrs. Indira Manandhar, welcomed dignitaries and guests by pointing out the need to maintain Nepal’s tradition of religious tolerance and harmony. She called on religious leaders to work together not only for peace and but also to ensure Nepal’s development. The subtitle for the Kathmandu event was, “The Role of Interfaith Communities in Peace and Development.”

“We pray that all can learn to give and receive forgiveness after all the violence we have been through,” said Jesuit Father Bill Robins.

In addition to articles in several newspapers, three television stations covered the program in Kathmandu.

Chitwan

On the same day, eight religious leaders attend the UN interfaith celebrations in Chitwan. These included three Christian leaders, one Islamic leader, two representatives from the Brahma Kumaris, one Buddhist monk, and one Hindu guru. Additionally, five UPF Ambassadors for Peace were among the 30 people attending the program.

Pokhara

Seventy participants participated in the event in Pokhara on February 7, including representatives from eight religious traditions and five Ambassadors for Peace. The Chief Guest for the event was Prof. Ganesh Bahadur Gurung, a senior Ambassador for Peace and formerly a close adviser to the Nepal government.

For more information about World Interfaith Harmony Week, click here.

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