BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, a member of the United Nations Economic and Social Council, observed International Peace Day in the presence of Mahant Swami Maharaj on Saturday 23 September at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in London.
In 1981, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously 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, organisations and nations to create practical acts of peace on a shared date.” As the resolution 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 events are organised each year over the week to commemorate and celebrate this idea.
The theme for 2017 is “Together for Peace: Respect, Safety and Dignity for All.” It honours the spirit of TOGETHER, a global initiative that promotes respect, safety and dignity for everyone, especially those forced to flee their homes in search of a better life.
Observance by BAPS in London
Worshippers and visitors joined together to observe Peace Day in the presence of Mahant Swami Maharaj on 23 September 2017. Swamishri began the observances with the traditional lighting of lamps, while children and youths sang the shanti-paath, an ancient Vedic peace prayer.
Sharad Patel, 15, read out a statement of prayer and reflection, stating: “Today, we, the members of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha, observe the International Day of Peace by sharing the teachings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan and the inspiration of His Holiness Mahant Swami Maharaj.
“We pray for our fellow human brothers and sisters suffering in war-torn and conflict-stricken zones, for the bereaved and for those who have lost their lives or have been injured by acts of violence or natural disasters. We also offer our prayers for the orphaned, homeless, displaced, ailing, poor, deprived and disadvantaged and also for those who are tragically fleeing or affected by the spate of recent calamities around the world.”
Swamishri addressed the assembly, drawing upon the work and teachings of Bhagwan Swaminarayan in promoting the spiritual values underpinning lasting peace. He further elaborated upon the importance of peace within families, which in turn inspires peace in communities and across the world. He concluded by encouraging everyone to adopt the principles of International Peace Day beyond just a single day or week, to make a continuous commitment to instilling peace in our daily lives.