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 to commemorate and celebrate this day
This year, the day was celebrated by BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, an affiliate of the UN’s Economic and Social Council, at the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Neasden, London. The special evening assembly was inaugurated with the traditional lighting of the lamp, followed by the Shanti-path. This ancient Vedic prayer was eloquently sung in its original Sanskrit by four young children of the BAPS London Children’s Forum.
A short speech followed elucidating upon the Preamble to the UNESCO Constitution which famously begins: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed.”
This message was reinforced with a video presentation depicting how His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj has touched the lives of millions with his peace-inspiring work. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had described him as “a Messenger of Peace”.
Young 13-year-old Kush came to the lectern next. He read out a piece in fluent English titled, “If I Had My Way…”. In it, he shared his thoughts about how he would like the world to be. He said: “If I had my way, the world would be full of peace. No fighting. No arguments. Everyone would be friends. … We are all One Family. So why should we fight? We are all brothers and sisters – children of a loving, Almighty God. We should live together – happily and in harmony. And like they say in stories: ‘… and they all lived happily ever after!’ Please God: make this world happen.” The simple, prayerful words of the child were both touching and inspiring.
Thereafter, the gathered joined in meditative silence to pray for all fellow humans who were suffering in war-torn, conflict-stricken zones, and for the bereaved and those who had lost their lives or been injured because of acts of terrorism. A special prayer was also said for the poor, homeless, ailing and deprived, for those who had been affected by the recent hurricanes in the Caribbean and in America, and even for those who had lost their jobs and/or savings in the grip of the continuing global financial crisis.
The assembly concluded with a final statement of prayer and reflection, tying in the spirituality and message of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and Pramukh Swami Maharaj for a truly lasting, meaningful end to inner conflict.
In thus observing International Peace Day, 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 – for us, our children, and for many more generations to come.
May Peace prevail upon our glorious world. May Peace be unto all of us.
To learn more about the International Day of Peace from the official UN website, click here.
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