International Day of Peace Observed in Switzerland

Switzerland-2015-09-12-International Day of Peace

Zürich, Switzerland—The 2015 International Day of Peace was celebrated with music, education and a peace march through Switzerland’s largest city.

UPF-Switzerland held the seventh annual Family and Peace Festival in cooperation with the Swiss chapters of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) and Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP), two affiliated organizations.

This year’s festival also commemorated the 10th anniversary of the founding of UPF. Participants met on September 12, 2015, in the Volkshaus, one of Zürich’s main music venues.

Goya Cheytanov-Ordonez, president of WFWP-Switzerland, organized the event together with some representatives of the community. Winfried Schwager and Andrea Nakamura were the MCs.

The festival started with entertainment by Arnold y sus Azabaches, a Hispanic band; Ejder Sabanci playing the ney (a Turkish flute); Nathalie Komagata’s rhythmic dance; Esteban Garzon’s guitar performance; and tenor Sascha Kramer singing opera arias, accompanied by Gertrud Wullschleger on piano.

Lisette Müller-Jaag, a former cantonal politician in Zürich, gave the opening address. Heiner W. Handschin, standing representative of UPF at the United Nations in Geneva, spoke on “The Family as a Place of Learning Humanity, Peacefulness, Respect for Human Rights and Human Dignity.” He explained how important it is to create peace within the family in order to expand it to the world. A short film about UPF and its many peacebuilding activities was then shown.

More musical performances were offered by Adrian Trachsel and Ruilong Wäckerlin, two young virtuosos of violin and piano, before Julia Handschin performed the popular song “The Greatest Love of All.”

Chantal Chételat Komagata, secretary general of UPF-Switzerland, moderated a panel discussion on “Educating for Peace in the Family and in a Multicultural Environment.” The panelists were Christof Meier, chief of integration in the city of Zürich; Monika Eishuku Leibundgut of the Zen Dojo Zürich; Noëmie Komagata, youth leader of FFWPU; Lisette Müller-Jaag, and Carolyn Handschin-Moser, director of the UN office of WFWP. Each panelist gave a different view of the discussion theme, and then the audience was invited to pose questions to the panelists.

One of the highlights of the program was a Water Ceremony for Freedom and Peace, in which representatives of religion, politics, state and civil society were each given a jar containing water from Lake Zürich. In turns, they poured their jar of water into a chalice representing the unity of all. Following the water ceremony, all the participants joined in a toast (with juice) to the vision for peace and love.

The ceremony was followed by a performance by singer Hitomi Kutsuzawa and Kotaro Nishishita on guitar of a composition meant to remember the victims of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan. Mélanie Komagata performed Debussy’s “Claire de Lune” on the flute.

After the performances, Ambassadors for Peace certificates were awarded to Monika Eishuku Leibundgut of the Zen Dojo Zürich, Lisette Müller-Jaag, former cantonal politician, and Arnulfo González Vélez, the leader of the band Arnold y sus Azabaches.

The first half of the festival concluded with all the participants singing together “One Family under God.”

Then everyone gathered outside on the Helvetiaplatz. Each person received a balloon for the march. Those people who represented the world’s religions held a tame dove in their hands and, in unison, released the birds while proclaiming peace. The festival kicked off again with more performances from band Arnold y sus Azabaches, singer Olivia Handschin and guitarist Esteban Garzon.

Then participants marched onto the street, holding the festival banner, sunflowers, balloons and posters printed with quotes of wisdom from great peace promoters such as Mohandas Gandhi, the Dalai Lama and UPF Founder Dr. Sun Myung Moon. They marched through the city, following a Zürich police escort of one car and two motorcycles, and chanted songs on peace, love and unity.

The group concluded their march on Werdmühleplatz and gathered around as the Buddhist monk Bhante Anuruddha recited a sutra in both German and his own language. To commemorate the completion of the Family and Peace Festival, the participants released their balloons into the air.

For Michel Reymond’s video of the festival click here.

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