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UN Interfaith Harmony Week Celebrated in Three Cities in Nepal

07 February, 2012

UN Interfaith Harmony Week Celebrated in Three Cities in Nepal

By Robert S. Kittel

Kathmandu, Nepal — As thousands Maoist fighters were being released from military cantonments they had lived in since 2006, religious leaders from eight faith traditions were commemorating the UN’s second annual World Interfaith Harmony Week in at least three cities in Nepal.

In 2010 the United Nations adopted a resolution that the first week of February each year be dedicated to interreligious harmony. The President of the 66th General Assembly, H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, acknowledged that faith-based organizations play a vital role in mediation of conflict because they contributed spiritual qualities such as “tolerance, forgiveness and reconciliation” to peace-building.

In Nepal, the Universal Peace Federation (UPF) held programs in Kathmandu (the capital), Chitwan (home of Chitwan National Park, a world heritage site) and Pokhara (Nepal’s second largest city and a major tourist destination). This is the second year that UPF-Nepal held such celebrations.

The largest program was in Kathmandu where UPF-Nepal partnered with Religions for Peace-Nepal at an event that gathered 160 participants in the prestigious Nepal Academy in the center of the city on Sunday, February 5.

The Chief Guest for this event was the former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, H.E. Kul Chandra Gautam. He noted, “We (Nepalese) feel shy to say that we are from the country where Gautama Buddha was born as some of our political leaders are still claiming that they will bring change in Nepal through the power of the gun.”

The former UN diplomat put out a call for action, saying, “Religious leaders have to play a pro-active role to bring about peace as politicians cannot bring it about by themselves.”

Congressman Ek Nath Dhakal, a member of the Constituent Assembly and the President of UPF-Nepal, explained that UPF is advocating for reforming the United Nations by including an interreligious council as part of the UN body. Rev. Sun Myung Moon, the founder of UPF, first called for such council in August 2000 in an address at the UN headquarters in New York, USA.

The President for Religions for Peace-Nepal, Mrs. Indira Manandhar, welcomed dignitaries and guests by pointing out the need to maintain Nepal’s tradition of religious tolerance and harmony. She called on religious leaders to work together not only for peace and but also to insure Nepal’s development. The subtitle for the Kathmandu event was, “The Role of Interfaith Communities in Peace and Development.”

In addition to articles in several newspapers, three television stations covered the program in Kathmandu.

In Chitwan on the same day, eight religious leaders attend the UN interfaith celebrations. These included: three Christian leaders, one Islamic leader, two representatives from the Brahma Kumaris, one Buddhist monk, and one Hindu guru. Additionally, five UPF Ambassadors for Peace were among the 30 people attending the program. (See powerpoint photos)

In Pokhara 70 participants participated in the event, including representatives from eight religious traditions and five Ambassadors for Peace. The Chief Guest for the event was Prof. Ganesh Bahadur Gurung.