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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.

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 Neasden, London, on Sunday 20 September 2009 . The special evening assembly was inaugurated with the traditional lighting of the lamp while an audio-video presentation conveyed the Shanti-path, an ancient Vedic peace prayer.

A short introduction to the assembly elucidated the theme ‘Peace Begins at Home’, based on the oft-quoted adage ‘charity begins at home’. It followed on from the United Nations’ own preamble to the day’s 24-hour live broadcast:

If there is to be peace in the world, there must be peace in the nations.
If there is to be peace in the nations, there must be peace in the cities.
If there is to be peace in the cities, there must be peace among neighbours.
If there is to be peace among neighbours, there must be peace in the home.

This message was reinforced by 11-year-old Nikhil Saglani who read out two touching poems about the strength, sanctity and uniqueness of the family bond. He concluded with the prayer: “Oh God! Bless all of us with the love and wisdom to be a part of your one big happy, peaceful family.”

Next, Manoharmurti Swami elaborated upon the theme by explaining how family life is at the centre of a happy society and, conversely, how family breakdown is becoming increasingly connected to social ills. He shared Pramukh Swami Maharaj’s formula for a harmonious family – daily Satsang (worship), regular home-assemblies, seeking to understanding each other, and learning to forgive one another – and explained the truth of how the family that eats, learns, prays and plays together, stays together.

A short video presentation followed depicting how Pramukh Swami Maharaj was bringing peace and joy to all those around him every day. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan had described him as “a Messenger of Peace”.

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 by acts of violence. A special prayer was also said for the orphaned, homeless, ailing, poor and deprived, and for those who were still reeling from the continuing economic unease.

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 conflict within hearts and homes and ultimately the world.

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 – here and now for us, and for generations to come everywhere.

To learn more about the International Day of Peace from the official UN website, click here.

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