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 20 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 Atmatrupt Swami. He expounded upon the teachings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and narrated several insightful incidents from the life of Shastriji Maharaj, Yogiji Maharaj and Pramukh Swami Maharaj, particularly elaborating upon the spiritual basis of truly lasting, meaningful peace.
This message was reiterated in a concluding discourse by Sadguru Pujya Mahant Swami.
Thereafter, a statement of prayer and reflection was read out by 13-year-old Sharad Patel reiterating the UN Secretary-General’s message for 2015:
We live at a moment of peril – but this is also an era of great promise.
Although it may seem hopelessly distant, the dream of peace pulses in the lives of people everywhere.
And there is no group more poised to help realize this dream than today’s young people.
On the International Day of Peace, as we mark the 70th anniversary of the United Nations, let us seize the opportunity achieve the UN’s founding purpose: to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.
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 have lost their lives or been injured by acts of violence or in natural disasters. A special prayer was also said for the orphaned, homeless, displaced, ailing, poor, deprived and disadvantaged, and especially for those currently fleeing or affected by tragic acts of on-going terror 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.