In 1982, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution declaring an International Day of Peace. In 2001, the General Assembly adopted 21 September as the permanent date for this annual event.
The Day is envisioned to provide “an opportunity for individuals, organizations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date.” As the resolution specifically states: “Peace Day should be devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.”
Since its inception, Peace Day has grown to include millions of people in all parts of the world, and each year events are organised over the week to commemorate and celebrate this idea.
Observance by BAPS in London
This year, the event was observed by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London on Sunday 22 September. The special evening assembly was inaugurated with the traditional lighting of the lamp and the choral singing of the Shanti-Paath, an ancient Vedic peace prayer.
Providing a spiritual perspective on this year’s theme of ‘Education for Peace’, Prabuddhmuni Swami drew upon the life and work of Shastriji Maharaj, the founder of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha.
This was followed by Ghanshyamcharan Swami (visiting from India), who expounded upon the teachings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Pramukh Swami Maharaj. He explained how these spiritual principles could induce a truly lasting, meaningful end to conflict within hearts and homes and ultimately the world.
A short video was then shown depicting Pramukh Swami Maharaj bringing peace and joy to all those around him.
Thereafter, a statement of prayer and reflection was read out reiterating the UN Secretary-General’s message for 2013: “On this International Day of Peace, let us pledge to teach our children the value of tolerance and mutual respect. Let us invest in the schools and teachers that will build a fair and inclusive world that embraces diversity. Let us fight for peace and defend it with all our might.”
The assembly concluded with meditative chanting to pray for all fellow humans suffering in war-torn, conflict-stricken zones, and for the bereaved and those who had lost their lives or been injured by acts of violence or in natural disasters. A special prayer was also said for the orphaned, homeless, ailing, poor and deprived, and especially for those affected by the tragic actsof terror on-going around the world.
In thus observing the International Day of Peace, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha affirmed its support of a shared vision of our world at peace and in harmony, and its commitment to converting these noble aspirations into a reality – here and now for us, and for generations to come everywhere.