Udupi: To promote peace and harmony, an inter-religious meet was held at Subhasnagar, Shankerpura under the aegis of ‘Sarva Dharma Sauharda Samiti’ on the occasion of Muharram celebrations which marked the start of Islamic New Year. The inter-religious meet was held on Sunday October 16 at Sarakarigudde Shankerpura.
The Muharram celebration was attended and addressed by prominent personalities and religious heads of Christians, Hindus and Muslims, namely Fr Dr Leslie D’Souza (convener of Sarva Dharma Sauharda Samiti and correspondent, St John’s Academy Shankerpura), Vincent Alva (professor, Milagres College Kalyanpura), J C Rajendra Bhatt (national JC instructor and Shaukat Ali (youth leader) respectively.
The programme began with a prayer invoking God’s blessings by Nirmala Devadiga followed by the welcome address by Naveen Ameen (proprietor of Friends Caterers) a prominent personality of Shankerpura and member of Sarva Dharma Sauharda Samiti.
Antony D’Sa (member of Sarva Dharma Sauharda Samiti) read out the report and highlighted the activities of Sarva Dharma Sauharda Samiti last year.
Mark Vaz (vice president–parish council St John Evangelist Church Pangala) introduced Fr Leslie D’Souza. Fr Leslie D’Souza lit the traditional lamp and inaugurated the Muharram Sarva Dharma meet.
A beautiful welcome dance was performed by two little children.
The first keynote address was by J C Rajendra Bhatt who highlighted the importance of holding inter-religious meets to understand every religion and create a human bond and humanity.
He further said, “Humanity is the greatest religion. Every religion teaches good values and virtues and hence it is important to respect each other’s religions.”
He cited the example of harmonious living by people of Goa wherein 25 lac Konkani speaking people belonging to Hindu and Christian religions live in perfect harmony. They speak one language but celebrate every feast and event of the other.
“We too must follow their example and mingle around with other religions during their celebrations and show our love and respect to them,” he added.
A wonderful mime show was presented by ICYM members of St John’s parish, Shankerpura. Anil D’Sa introduced professor Vincent Alva.
Speaking on the occasion, professor Vincent Alva said, “I am happy to be a citizen of our country. Let our religions stay inside our homes and religious places. Let us not exhibit our religion on the streets. Our country has vast culture with a variety of religions. We find unity in diversity. We should be proud of our country and live like true citizens of our country rather than thinking only of our religion and involving in communal activities.”
“Humanity and respect of others is the true religion. We should live like true citizens of our nation caring and respecting each other keeping aside our religion, caste or creed. Let us live like brothers and sisters in this great country,” he added.
A dance performance was presented by Muslim youth on the occasion.
Janab Shawkat Ali said, “Christians are known to be very kind people.”
Quoting the Quran, he said, “Today we have loads of preachers shouting from pulpits about their religions rather than thinking about humanity. I studied in a Christian school and never felt that anyone forced me to convert or learn Christianity. We must unite and create a brotherly bond for our better future.”
The convener of the Sarva Dharma Sauharda Samiti, Fr Leslie D’Souza addressing the audience, explained the purpose of Muharram celebrations in detail. He said that in his tenure of seven years at Shankerpura, he has learned that anything can be achieved through unity. He was happy to see a large number of people attending the inter-religious meet.
“The purpose of the inter-religious meet is to create unity, humanity and respect for all religions. Let us keep aside our religions and work for humanity. If anyone has no value for humanity, he cannot boast of his religion.”
“I studied in a Hindu school and college and found more humanity and bond in diversity. Let us not be prejudice in our thoughts and actions but be open-minded and see the goodness in people of other religions.”
Quoting Mother Teresa who loved humanity, he said, “'I was born in Albania but am a citizen of India. In heart I love Jesus’. If we love our religion in our hearts we can overcome anything and can respect other people. Let us remove the black spot from our heart and develop a clean and spotless heart to love the other person.”
Nandan Kumar, secretary of Sauharda committee proposed the vote of thanks. Snacks were distributed to all who attended the programme. Hanif compered the entire programme wonderfully.
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