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Background

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

BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, observed the Day at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London on Sunday 21 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.

Further devotional singing was followed by an enlightening discourse by Brahmavihari Swami (visiting from India). He expounded upon the teachings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and narrated several insightful incidents from the life of Pramukh Swami Maharaj, particularly elaborating upon how he continues to bring peace to millions around the world and how his spiritual teachings can induce a truly lasting, meaningful peace in the hearts and homes of people first.

This message was reiterated in a short video of Swamishri’s blessings.

Thereafter, a statement of prayer and reflection was read out reiterating the UN Secretary-General’s message for 2014:

        Today is the International Day of Peace.

Peace is a long road that we must travel together – step by step, beginning today.

Let us all reflect on peace – and what it means for our human family.

Let us hold it in our hearts and minds and tenderly nurture it so it may grow and blossom.

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 acts of 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.

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