The United Religions Initiative global network celebrates World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) around the planet. The United Nations has designated February 1-7 of every year as a time to celebrate interfaith peace and cooperation worldwide. This year is the 10th anniversary of WIHW and URI is glad to be a part of it!
Note: Click the yellow arrows on either side of the photos to scroll through the photo slideshows below.
View celebrations by region:
Cooperation Circle: Global Compassion
Location: Santchou, Cameroon
Cameroon has been facing a high level of violent extremism with Boko Haram in the northern part, since more than six (6) years now. There have been violent problems with separatists (Anglophone crisis) in the Western part of the country for three (3) years now. These crises are generating many victims and displaced people. Most of the people perpetrating these attacks, killings and kidnappings are young people, and mostly not well-educated. The Cameroon government has been fighting them since then with guns, but with no good results. As Malala said, “With guns you can kill terrorists but with education you can kill terrorism.” We also believe in this useful quote.
Santchou, in the western part of the country, is hosting many displaced people from the Anglophone crisis who are affected by the separatists, terrorists and army killings in their villages. Due to this issue, we want to organize a gathering this 5th February during the UN World Interfaith Harmony Week to listen and learn from each other. The event will be both for Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and the residents hosting them.
The IDPs are Muslims, Christians and Animists, who are facing some hate and exclusion in Santchou, being the host council, as some residents are stereotyping them by calling them Ambazonia (separatists) or terrorists (like Boko Haram). During the gathering, we will be highlighting those stereotypes. We will talk with each other, create friendships, and build a safe spirit of living lead by love and harmony between residents and IDPs. Moreover, we know that strong friendships lead to loving one's neighbors and exchanging values of peace. A size of 20-30 participants sitting in a circle and face-to-face talk will be the way to best express our goal of building peace in society.
Cooperation Circle: House of Hilkiah Foundation
Location: Makurdi, Benue State, Nigeria
This event is titled "Many Faiths Yet Unbroken." To celebrate WIHW, House of Hilkiah Foundation will invite over 200 stakeholders and individuals from different religion and tribes to dress in their traditional attires to come say a prayer for peace and plant a peace pole. The Peace Pole will be a symbol to remind us that peace is what we need to develop our community. Learn more on our Facebook page.
Location: Mupombe Village, Blantyre, Malawi
As the effects of global warming and climate change are not "selecting who to get in touch with," every human life is in great danger. We, therefore, have the task of making people develop a political understanding about the importance of planting trees, as trees help manage greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. People do understand the other importances of trees, such as using them for construction, but we want to make the community and schoolchildren keep in mind trees' role in protecting the planet.
So, organized by Lunzu Cooperation Circle, we will be planting trees for WIHW 2020. Our task is to prepare a place where at least 300 tree seedlings shall be planted. We will also be taking care of the young trees that were planted in the previous rainy season of 2018-2019. The action of planting 300 trees shall take place on Tuesday, 28th January 2020 at Nasonjo Primary School at 9:00 AM. The surrounding village heads (Mpombe, Ndemanje, Kamwendo, Wotala and Maluwa), Mary's Meals Program Officials, Forestry Officials, teachers, learners and community members, regardless of their interests in terms of religion, tribe, political affiliations, literacy level and culture, shall all hold hands in making sure that the plan is done successfully.
Cooperation Circles: Lilongwe CC
Location: Lilongwe, Malawi
Lilongwe CC, with Chinsapo Youth Network and YASSED, will plant trees in a ceremony with the wildlife and natural resources conservation and rehabilitation trust in Lilongwe between 1st and 7th February 2020. Between 20 and 30 participants are expected.
Cooperation Circle: Cape Town Interfaith Initiative
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
The Cape Town Interfaith Initiative hosted 7 Sacred Days in Cape Town, a week-long tour of community engagement in observance of the United Nations World Interfaith Harmony Week. Around 30 representatives and leaders from diverse religious traditions gathered for this packed week-long pilgrimage. About 200 participants were involved.
The group visited local houses of worship, grassroots organizations with healing missions, Cape Town communities, and landmark institutions of Cape Town’s history. Throughout the visits, the group learned from local community groups, offered prayers of community healing, and shared in experiences of togetherness. Please read the full report of each day's activities.
Cooperation Circle: Nkhata Bay
Location: Nkhata Bay, Northern Malawi
HIV PREVENTION LESSONS: As Nkhata Bay Cooperation Circle (CC), we believe that HIV is real and it's affecting fellow young people across the world - thus, our country, Malawi, and our community, inclusive. Hence, it is important to provide capacity-building with vast knowledge on HIV prevention interventions so our community has the best knowledge of HIV prevention. The activity has impacted a number of young people in Mpamba, from almost five youth clubs. And, upon having almost as good membership from our CC as coaches in this activity, it was a great opportunity to gain more knowledge on HIV prevention and leadership on its cost. Besides gaining that, the community has also been empowered with quality knowledge through its youth members. These trained youth will be able to share more information with their youth clubs during their activities. A good partnership with the Peace Corps was done to get this organized, together with Nkhata Bay CC.
URI Regional Office: URI Western Africa Regional Office
Location: Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria
On Thursday, February 6, 2020, URI West Africa Regional Office, in partnership with three of our local Cooperation Circles in Nigeria - Women and Girl Child Rescue and Development Initiative, New Era Educational and Charitable Support Foundation, and Center for Applied Spiritual Science - hosted 123 young men and women from four Secondary Schools in Jos, Plateau State, for a one-day event to celebrate the 2020 United Nations Interfaith Harmony Week. The event was also attended by religious leaders, educators, community leaders, and parents. The guest speaker was His Grace Salika Dasa, Temple President of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISCKON) in Jos, Nigeria. See more photos in the Facebook post.
Cooperation Circle: Karonga Nthora
Location: Mzuzu, Karonga, Malawi
Tree planting: On the 1st of February 2020, Karonga Nthora organised a tree planting programme to combat the climatic change we are experiencing today globally. If we are to live in harmony with our Mother Earth, we need to treat her the way we treat our mothers; with love. In return, we will see how lovingly she treats us with what we receive from her every day. We are destroying her in everyday living in so many ways to benefit ourselves, but we fail to recover the wounds we have caused on our Mama Earth. Let's build her up by planting more trees and do whatever it can take to protect her. If you don't give maintenance to a leaking house, expect to sleep in a worse condition for the rest of your life. If we don't take care of our Mother Earth at any level, let's expect to face great problems - some of which we are facing today.
For WIHW, our Cooperation Circle helped the school learners and community to plant more trees - and still keep on planting. The challenge is, we didn't have enough tree seedlings to be planted in our whole community, as we do just buy them. The contributed money was not enough to buy more trees, but the tress we had were planted at the school with the school learners.
Let's hold hands to safeguard our Mother Planet Earth.
Cooperation Circle: Wildlife and Natural Resources Conservations and Rehabilitation Trust
Location: Lilongwe, Malawi
The Cooperation Circle (CC) managed to bring together different people of different faiths, such as Muslims, Christians, and Traditionalists, to work together in mitigating the impacts of climate change through afforestation. The CC managed to effectively collaborate with other stakeholders with similar goals of environmental conservation, management, and protection, which has helped to boost peace and harmony among the concerned parties. Planting over 2,000 trees through joint efforts will help improve vegetative cover in the area as a way of mitigating climate change impacts, which is an issue of global concern. The CC is proud to contribute positively towards solving global environmental challenges.
See a news feature of their work.
Cooperation Circle: Vision Young Mothers (Visionary Women Group)
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
The theme for our event was Gratitude. By fostering a sense of gratitude in relation to World Interfaith Harmony Week, Visionary Women Group held an interfaith dialogue between the Christian and Muslim faiths in Kibra Constituency, Nairobi, Kenya to express their religious convictions and embrace each other. Discussing the link of terrorism with the Islamic faith was the main topic. The event was held on 07.02.2020 at Makina Library Hall, Nairobi, Kenya from 2.00pm-5.00pm. Persons present were the Visionary Women Group, youth groups, village elders, and religious leaders from both faiths, making a total of 42 participants.
The link of terrorism with the Islamic faith in Kenya was the main agenda item, as its effects are massive for all citizens regardless of race, colour, or religion. The moderator was from the Islamic faith, and also known as a Sheikh. The effect of terrorism on the common Kenyan citizen was addressed by both parties. The Muslims clearly stated that the scriptures and Islamic history promote compassion, justice, gratitude, and peace, but some sects are victims of extremism. The Sheikh emphasised that terrorism has no place in the Islamic faith, and the Islamic holy book (Quran) clearly states that, when a person kills another, it is as though he has killed the whole of mankind. It came out clearly that terrorism has no religion, but terrorists are highly-paid killers that kill people for money and fame.
The peak of the event was crowned by a peace pledge from the participants and a vow to never engage in any activity that will cause havoc or terror to anyone, and to be each others' keepers. The event impacted all the participants by giving them a clear knowledge of terrorism and its effects. Misconceptions on terrorism also came out clearly, as terrorism has a direct impact on the enjoyment of fundamental human rights.
Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
"Tour of Togetherness" -
This year in 2020, we have decided to engage the most vulnerable section of society in our interfaith Tour of Togetherness. The women who are selected for the tour were previously working as commercial sex workers and now are medical patients with HIV and cancer. We will be selecting those cases who really need some happiness, love and care at the twilight of their life.
Fifteen women will be taken on an interfaith tour and will be visiting a temple, a Muslim shrine, a church, a Fire Temple, and a Gurudwara. They will also have an interaction with the leaders at each place of worship. The objective is to let them believe that divine messages are all of mercy, compassion and togetherness.
These women have never before been to their worship places, due to the social stigma they carry.
To pray in a worship place is a taboo for them.
Hence, Beyond Sarhad decided to give them their place in the Almighty's world and let them experience the interfaith spirit for the first time in their life. The impact will be in the hearts of these less fortunate sisters and daughters who will cherish this moment of togetherness.
Read more about this remarkable story.
Cooperation Circle: Palki Peace Circle
Location: Kolkata State, West Bengal, India
We are feeling blessed by being able to feed about 6,000 people. We lighted candles with a midday meal of hotchpotch, potato curry, chutney, and sweets for the destitute, irrespective of their caste, creed, color, or religion. Our main focus was to enhance mutual understanding, harmony, and cooperation among different religious people. I always believe that it is very necessary to address local issues with real work that will help people and create a direct impact on society. It is to fulfil our desire to establish interfaith peace, and to promote brotherhood among all people, regardless of their faith. Read more.
Cooperation Circle: Afghanistan Youth Empowerment and Peace-building Organization (AYEPO)
Location: Kabul, Afghanistan
"The participants, who had not met each other at all, grew so close in just three days that one could sense that they were now like members of a family."
AYEPO organized a "Peace & Harmony Gathering" from the 5th to 7th February to enhance mutual understanding, peace and harmony among Afghan youth. Why is such a gathering important in Afghanistan? Most Afghan youth have lived a life shaped and influenced by conflict and violence. Although a lot of progress has happened in the past 19 years in the areas of education, women’s rights, and human rights, no particular attention has been given to youth, especially in bringing youth of different backgrounds together so that they can learn about each other and bridge social and cultural gaps. There are not many opportunities for young people to see how they can relate and work for the future they all share. As a result, they have a different outlook towards those who come from different ethnic groups – meaning that there are misconceptions and divisions among the younger generations.
Participants talked about the common ground they shared with each other and how such commonalities could unite them. They also discussed the role of youth in peace-building and social changes, and in creating unity. They discussed how young people from diverse backgrounds could collectively bridge cultural gaps and other differences, thus working with one another for the future they all share.
Talking about these issues was not all we did. The spirit of these discussions was embodied and experienced in a powerful process where the youth cooked meals together, ate with one another, drew pictures and sang together with open hearts. The experience emphasized that overall, and despite their differences, they were united and could peacefully coexist in their diversity. Read more.
See a lovely video of highlights from the gathering.
Location: Five states across rural East India, including Purnea, Bihar
Rural India's Got Talent! It's an interfaith youth community meet in East India, where more than 2000 youth participants are expected to show their hidden talents to an audience. It's the best way to unite each other for peace and development by community-building with interfaith youth. See more on our Facebook page.
On February 1: More than 5 religions and 15 countries are in collaboration for this event. Cooperation Circles in Nepal, Tanzania, and Cameroon will unite together to make this conference greatly impactful. Exciting prizes and certificates, involving 40,000+ students from different universities, will be awarded. Environmentalists will hold dialogue meetings, and Zoom meetings will take place for remote participants. Overall, in this event, the entire world's interfaith communities will meet through Smiles4millions Foundation CC's platform.
Cooperation Circle: National Muslim Christian Dialogue Gujrat CC
Location: Gujrat, Pakistan
About 50 people gathered to openly describe the purpose of harmony, showing the public why it is needed.
Cooperation Circle: Karickam International Public School CC
Location: Kottarakkara, Kerala, India
We conducted an inter-school quiz based on holy scriptures on February 8. About 100 people participated. We have been conducting this kind of quiz for the past nine years during WIHW. It has gained much importance here as a WIHW event. Several schools are now participating. Several prizes and cash awards are given every year.
Cooperation Circle: Angel Peace Foundation
Location: Jaipur, Rajasthan, India
On February 3, we celebrated WIHW. This activity has influenced us a lot. From this activity we learned, "What about peace and goodwill in Hinduism and Christianity?"
In Christianity - The word "peace" in the Bible, from the Greek word (eireinei), refers to a mental attitude of tranquility based on a relationship with God in the Christian Way of Life. It is a word which describes the result of a person's correct response to God's Grace. The Bible uses "peace" in two ways. There is personal peace with God, which comes when a person accepts Jesus Christ as Savior. Then, there is the peace of God which is available on a daily basis as the believer participates in the Christian way of life according to the Plan of God. So, where you find peace mentioned in the Bible it refers either to the reconciliation of a Christian in salvation, as in Eph. 2:14,17, or to the mental attitude found in the believers.
In Hinduism - Peace is an essential part of Hinduism. By examining the core teachings of Hinduism, it is possible to demonstrate the way Hinduism guides individuals in accomplishing inner peace, and also the way in which this religious tradition contributes to world peace through individuals, and organizations working for peace. The Bhagavad Gita is considered to be one of the most important of the Hindu sacred texts. This document contains sacred scriptures, and helps adherents to attain a peaceful and harmonious existence. It contains the core teachings, and serves to instruct a Hindu on the correct way to go about their life, taking into account the different castes. It advocates the concepts of Dharma, Karma, reincarnation, and Moksha, and the importance of these. Essentially, the Bhagavad Gita is the Hindu’s key to achieving peace.
Location: Asansol, West Bengal, India
We held a potluck as a "festival of sharing." The event was organized by six URI Cooperation Circles (listed above) and Empowering India, a local partner organization. Members from Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, and Tribal communities participated in a half-day event to celebrate interfaith harmony. They celebrated by sharing food and playing a game based on the theme of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This event was very important in connecting people of different faiths and traditions through a common thread of hospitality, particularly at a time of tremendous conflict and exploitative situations in the country. See more in the Facebook post.
During the three-hour event, we went back to our enriched traditions of profound connection and hospitality irrespective of caste and creed. We have experienced that, in respect to our uniqueness, members experienced deep and profound bonding by feeding each other.
It is absolutely proven that, unless there is enough provocation and exploitation, people do not participate in conflicts and violence, and everyone wants to live in peace and happiness.
The inaugural speech was delivered by Govinda JI Maharaj of Ramakrishna Mission and Rev. Kalyan Kumar Kisku, Global Trustee URI. Hafiz Mohammad Khatibur Rehman and Sayed Tashhirul Islam from Empowering India addressed the gathering and invited people to join hands in social cohesive programs with several organizations.
The Sustainable Development Goals game was very productive. Each Cooperation Circle standing in the circle had to pass the SDG ball while music played in the background. Once the music stopped, whoever had the ball had the chance to pick up a token from a lucky draw-box and read the Sustainable Development Goal written on the paper to further to talk about how they will promote this goal among their members and in the areas where they work. At the end, each Cooperation Circle got a prize.
We also distributed jute bags to participants in order to reduce plastic use, and we are continuously running a campaign against plastic use. We offer solutions, ideas, and responsibilities to people to aim for a plastic-free environment.
Location: Den Haag / The Hague, Netherlands
Bart ten Broek, of two URI member groups (Stichting Interreligieus Beraad Segbroek and URI Netherlands CC), took part in an interfaith tour for the first day of World Interfaith Harmony Week. (Photos by Henk van Bentem). The interfaith group visited multiple places of worship to learn about different faith traditions, including Shri Sanatan Dharm Dew Mandir, the St. Agnes Church, and the Anware Mustafa mosque.
See more photos.
Cooperation Circle: Stichting Interreligieus Beraad Segbroek
Location: Den Haag / The Hague, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
Our theme was "old and young." In the months before the event, we had old people from different cultures being interviewed about their religion in their life by 13-year-old children from different backgrounds. And we filmed it. On Saturday, Feb 4th, we hosted a walk to visit different churches, mosques, and temples. On Monday, we hosted a discussion on 'The Hague as a city of compassion' and what we had to do to become such a city. A workgroup was formed. On Tuesday, we showcased parts of the interviews. We had a priest, an imam, and a pandit talking about 'old and young', and discussed with 25 people about how the theme resonated for them. On Wednesday, we held a meal for homeless people. On Friday, we hosted a game of 'Inter-religious BINGO!'
Cooperation Circle: URI CC Lienz/Austria
Location: Lienz, Austria
Since the beginning of this UN Initiative (WIHW) in 2010, our interreligious team in Lienz, Austria - Bildung bringt Frieden (meaning "Education brings Peace" - has organized with great joy different projects to foster a good relationship between people from different faith traditions. Pictures can be seen on our website until 2012, at which point we became a URI Cooperation Circle and photos can be seen on our URI page. This year, we would like to invite people in Austria, people worldwide, and you to join "ONE PRAYER FOR ALL" every time someone hears any church bell, muezzin, temple bell, spirit drum.... or sees a sacred site from any religion:
"Dear God, Allah, Great Spirit, Holy Father.... (or the name you choose)
Please bless and strenghten my thoughts, my heart and my hands, so that I may create more Heaven on Earth. Thank you."
Or in short form:
"May there be Heaven on Earth through me."
We will promote this prayer through media, Facebook, and mailings and use it to share the URI Preamble too. It would be wonderful, if you like the idea, to spread it in your region.
I want to remind you of our other useful gift for interreligious work: "The Little Owl". It is a story about the question, "who created everything?" in 45 languages and videos. We have also worked to make the Heaven on Earth Wiki, a collection of people who work for a good future of the planet.
With best wishes for a blessed WIHW,
Elisabeth Ziegler-Duregger and the members of our Cooperation Circle.
URI Members: URI Europe Board and Support Staff
Location: Ankara, Turkey.
The URI Europe Board and Support Staff meeting was held from the 30th of January until the 2nd of February 2020, in Ankara, Turkey. This was a great opportunity to evaluate the work of URI Europe from the previous year and to make plans for this year's activities. 2020 is a very important year because we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of URI Europe. So we used this meeting as an opportunity to start the celebration with a nice cake and a lot of positive energy. Learn more.
Latin America and the Caribbean
URI Multiple Cooperation Circle: Brasil URI MCC (URI Brazil, a collection of multiple Cooperation Circles in Brazil)
Location: Brasília, Brazil
URI Brazil organized and participated in 14 events which reached more than 3.000 people in the country regarding inter-religious harmony. In reality, Brazil begins the work before the first week of February because the 21st of January is, among the Religions' Day, the National Day Against Religious Intolerance. This year, we began activities on the 11th of January and finished on the 21st of February. We held events in 10 cities: Araçatuba, Brasília, Campina Grande, Campinas, Curitiba, Goiânia, Rio Branco, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, and São Paulo. In Brasília emerged the idea of creating the 'Decade for Religions Harmony', because of the beginning of a new calendar decade. In Goiânia we have also radio programs regularly and the subject of the program in February was WIHW. The estimated 3,000+ people who participated in the events doesn't represent the audience who tuned in through the radio.
At the moment, Brazil is facing a massive wave of intolerance. The Harmony Week is an opportunity to show how important it is to respect and love the different traditions. This way, we get more empowerment to fight for the maintenance of the laic state (a state with no one religion).
Cooperation Circle: Círculo Latinoamericano de Músicos
Location: Valencia, Carabobo, Venezuela
This meeting sought to promote family union, peace, and the value of collaboration between participating communities with the singing of parrandas, bonnets and carols as an important tradition that honors the birth of the Child Jesus. In this activity, as URI members, we talk about the value that peace represents in these times in the world, calling for union and family love in moments of challenge, as well as in times of celebration.
The activity was carried out on February 7 from 6:00 pm until 10:00 pm with the support of the Board of Directors of Paso Real Nucleo 2, with: Rodolfo Vásquez (President); Wilmer Nuñez (Vice President); Silvia Arellano (Secretary); and Rafaela Aponte (Administrator).
Likewise, we have the support of neighbors who joined forces to make this encounter possible, where love and peace reigned, thanks to the power of music and collaboration. Participants: Parrandita Nucleo 1: Directed by Josefina Aumaitre; Parrandita Core 2: Directed by Andreamaría; Parrandita Core 3: Directed by Daniel Miranda.
Musicians: Rafael Capó (violin); Nicolas Carpio (drum); Wilmer Nuñez (drum); Dwight Carpio (cuatro).
Contributors: Williams Hernández (sound); Neighbors Paso Real Nucleo 2 (snack).
Cooperation Circle: Comunidad de Reflexión y Espiritualidad Ecológica (CREE)
Location: Quito, Ecuador
We held an interreligious meeting where a group of friends who belong to the Community of Reflection and Ecological Spirituality (CREE) in Quito got together to share their thoughts about the values of friendship, life and harmony. It was a beautiful time together, with a rich conversation about our religions, art and politics. This was a good date to support ourselves and plan our activities focused on interfaith and intercultural dialogue throughout the year.
Cooperation Circle: Curitiba CC
Location: Curitiba, Parana, Brazil
The CC Curitiba celebrated World Interfaith Harmony Week with its participation in the creation of an Interfaith Committee to combat religious intolerance in Paraná, Brazil. This committee is a good example for all URI Cooperation Circles (member groups) in the region as it tries to involve government institutions in interreligious and intercultural dialogue. This is so necessary for the coexistence and coexistence of diversity.
Cooperation Circle: Grupo Inter-Religioso de Sào Paulo CC
Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil
To celebrate the Week of Interreligious Harmony, the Cooperation Circle Grupo Inter-Religioso de Sào Paulo organized a meeting of several monks in the Monastery of São Bento to share prayers for peace and reconciliation.
Cooperation Circle: URI Brasilia CC
Location: Brasilia, Brazil
To celebrate Interreligious Harmony Week, CC Brasilia organized a meeting with several of its members to share prayers for peace and foster interreligious and intercultural dialogue. This occasion was conducive for scheduling and planning the activities for the culture of peace that will be developed during the year 2020.
Cooperation Circle: Mujeres Kunas Artesanas CC
Location: Ciudad de Panamá, Panama
For UN World Interfaith Harmony Week, Mujeres Kunas Artesanas CC led an interreligious prayer to celebrate harmony and 95 years of the Dule Revolution in the community of Koskuna.
Cooperation Circle: UNAKITA
Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
Revolución de las viejas - 1 de marzo - Con nuestra CC UNAKITA promovemos la unión de mujeres adultas mayores para concientizar el derecho a la vida digna, desde el respeto y la información para prevenir enfermedades y maltrato. Nuestra participación en la comunidad intenta presentar recursos para que las mujeres adultas no sufran de abandono ni soledad, que desde la empatía nos acompañemos amorosamente para encontrar espacios de ayuda para relaciones tóxicas o de maltrato.
English Translation: Revolution of the old women - March 1 - With our CC UNAKITA, we promote the union of older women to raise awareness of the right to dignified life, based on respect and information to prevent diseases and abuse. Our participation in the community tries to present resources so that adult women do not suffer from abandonment or loneliness, so that, from empathy, we may accompany each other lovingly to find areas of help for toxic or abusive relationships.
Cooperation Circle: Circulo De Cooperación para el Diálogo CC (Cooperation Circle for Dialogue)
Location: Caracas, Miranda, Venezuela
Circulo De Cooperación para el Diálogo CC (The Cooperation Circle for Dialogue) of Caracas will carry out an activity of interreligious songs and prayers for the reconciliation and peace of Venezuela in the Romanian Orthodox Church San Constantino and Santa Elena on March 3, 2020 at 3:00 pm. In this activity, choirs of children and young people belonging to the different religions and spiritual traditions that already confirmed their participation will be gathered: Catholics, evangelicals, Orthodox, Buddhists, Brahma Kumaris, and Fe Bahai, among others. They will be songs of peace and in the end there will be an inter-religious prayer and then everyone will share a collaborative snack.
After report: On Tuesday, March 3, we had our celebration of Interreligious Harmony Week, in the Romanian Orthodox Church, under the charge of Father Antonio Garcia, who received us with kindness. There we met the different religions that we could visit, such as Catholic, Muslim, Baha'i Faith, Hare Krishna, various schools of Buddhism, healers of Reiki and other spiritualities. We celebrated them with songs and prayers of each religion. For the opening, the Rev. Marina Shinji Tirado, president of the Cooperation Circle for Dialogue and Regional Coordinator for URI Latin America, Enoe Texier, welcomed all attendees.
For the Muslim community, Shaykh Mohammad Ali Chupani, Islamic theologian, Hernan Rubin Gourantaganatta Dasa for the Hare Krishna, Weldon Wood and Patricia Sotelo of the Low Faith, Zen Buddhism Rev. Marina ShinJi, in the company of some members of the Sangha of Caracas, Nichiren Dilia Parra Buddhism, the Catholic girls Camila, Marcela, Paula Ontiveros De Armas, Magda Moreno, and the nuns of the Novitiate Cristo Rey, also participated as a healer of Reiki Sandra Pianezzola and for the School of the Fifth Path, Vedanta Advaita.
The wonderful thing about this event for our country is that we are in a humanitarian crisis and it is of the utmost importance and helps peace and reconciliation. We need religions and spiritualities to be more united than ever at this moment in the country. This action was also dedicated to all sentient beings.
Cooperation Circle: C.O.E.MA.TI (Comunidad Originaria Ecos de la Madre Tierra)
Location: San Salvador de Jujuy, Jujuy, Argentina
We held a "Reaching Emancipatory Health: Conflict Resolution" workshop. The coordinator of this URI Cooperation Circle was able to consider the impact she gave the community with this event, and was pleased to see the minds and hearts of participants open to understand and feel the deepest feelings of the other brothers and sisters in the community, and thus be able to help them.
Cooperation Circle: UNISOES - BRASIL
Location: Salvador, Bahia, Brazil
The CC Unisoes organized a 7-day event titled "Reflections on the planet that is sacred and wants peace." Talks, workshops and interreligious and intercultural meditations were held from the 1st to the 7th of February at the facilities of a children's education institution in the town of Rua Bernardo. The Umbanda Juriti Center, Brahma Kumaris University, International Society for Krishna Consciousness, Roerich Institute and the Maconica Do Grande Circulo Branco Order participated.
Cooperation Circle: Fé-minina
Location: Sao Paulo, Brazil
The Fé-minina CC organized an Interreligious Celebration at the close of the tenth week of the UN Interfaith Harmony celebration in Sao Paulo. The event took place on 07/02/20 at 19:30 in the monastery of the Sao Bento Room School in Sao Paulo. It was attended by representatives of religious, spiritual, and Indigenous traditions and their friends. They called on all religious, spiritual, and Indigenous traditions to promote moments of harmony in their communities, respecting their traditions and joining their thoughts and hearts to value the kindness and trust of the population as a whole, the union of forces for the good of all sentient beings.
Middle East and North Africa
Cooperation Circle: Charter for Compassion – Yemen
Location: Sana'a, Yemen
In Yemen, having an autistic child is considered shameful in society. So families try to hide their situation by resorting to locking their autistic children in the house and not allowing them to go out to the street. We have been working on an advocacy campaign for children with autism in Yemen since December 2017. This year, we are holding a workshop to educate parents about how to nurture autistic children so that they can improve.
Cooperation Circle: The Abrahamic Reunion CC
Location: Bethlehem, Palestine, Israel
Interfaith Christmas Celebration in Bethlehem: "This is the second Chrismas event for the second year in a row that I have organized. The event was very impressive and it contained different religions, nationalities and nationalities. Everyone shared their views and ideas in order to achieve peace through interfaith dialogue." Written and organized by Mohamad Jamous, AR Palestinian Director. Over 100 people attended.
Cooperation Circle: Jordanian Association for Orphans & Widows Care CC
Location: Mafraq, Jordan
Jordanian Association for Orphans & Widows Care (JAOWC), a URI member group in Jordan, celebrated World Interfaith Harmony Week by organizing a full day of entertainment and gift-giving for orphans and refugee children on 1st January 2020. The day started with an interactive theatre play about “Interfaith Tolerance,” presenting a documentary film about tolerance and respecting differences. Then we had face painting and a question-and-answer game. The children had a healthy lunch and received valued gifts.
Cooperation Circle: Palestinian Association for Non Violent Communication
Location: Idhna, Palestine
In celebrating the World Interfaith Harmony Week, Palestinian Association for Nonviolent Communications CC participated in a peace-inspiring activity where students were able to harness their creativity and paint the "Powerful Peace Elephant," an art project centered around peace with young children.
Cooperation Circle: Hope for Palestinian Kids
Location: Arroub Camp, West Bank, State of Palestine
Hope for Palestinian Kids (H4PK) celebrated the World Interfaith Harmony Week by bringing happiness to kids in a number of activities dedicated to schoolchildren, including handicapped children, during the week of February 2020. First, they conducted awareness workshop on Peace & Religion for sixth-grade school students in Al Arroub Boys & Girls Schools, focusing on communalities and strong ties between religions around the world. Also, the workshop emphasized the fact that Islam's holy book, the Quran, instructs Muslims to respect other religions. Moreover, H4PK conducted an entertainment day for the handicapped children in Al Arroub Society for Rehabilitating Handicapped Children. The program included painting on walls, art, music, dance and distributing gifts to children. The third activity was visiting the Life Gate Association, where H4PK spent meaningful time and had fun with kids from different religious traditions, including handicapped children. Then gifts were distributed to children.
URI Members: Middle East and North Africa (MENA) regional office; Naya, Desert Bloom, Mercy and Jordan Seeds of Peace.
Location: Amman, Jordan
In honoring World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW), URI MENA Cultural Café organized a two-hour workshop on the 22nd of February on "The Religions' Contribution to Society." The workshop was attended by fifteen participants from different religious background and countries (Muslim, Christian, and Bahá'í from Jordan, South Africa, Germany, the USA, and Italy). Most of the Jordanian participants were from Naya, Desert Bloom, Mercy and Jordan Seeds of Peace CCs.
The participants shared examples of how their religious teachings urge social cohesion that helps maintain social solidarity and enforce religious-based morals and norms to maintain conformity and control in society. The participants agree on the notion that religion is a major player in social cohesion.
Read more here, including some good takeaways from participants’ contributions.
The URI Multiregion
Cooperation Circle: United Religions Initiative at the United Nations (URI-UN)
Location: New York, NY, USA
This event was hosted by the TZU-CHi Buddhist Community at the United Nations, co-sponsored by URI-UN. Two URI members spoke: Deborah Gill represented the Indigenous community through sharing prayers, and Martha Gallahue delivered the call to universal spirituality. Those in attendance were friends and colleagues of the Tzu-Chi and URI community working at the United Nations. The breakfast included an inter-faith dialogue about those shared common values we are called to live by in our daily expression - compassion, understanding, deep memory of the essence of our beliefs, recognition of our context in the earth community, harmony and cooperation, service (especially to those in need), and gratitude in all that we do. We are deeply indebted to the Tzu-Chi community for providing the space and for providing the generous breakfast. The event was wholesome and inspiriting.
Cooperation Circles: Unity Earth, EcoPeace/Friends of the Earth Middle East Cooperation Circle
Location: The Jordan River Valley
URI is partnering with Unity Earth and EcoPeace Middle East for the celebration of the 2020 World Interfaith Harmony Week in the Middle East. The event will take place from 2-7 February 2020 under the theme of Holy Land, Living Water. The celebration will bring around 70-100 international delegates for the series of week-long events. The delegates will be comprised of religious, Indigenous and spiritual leaders, ecological advocates, diplomats, artists, social entrepreneurs, leading academics and media. Approximately 25 Palestinian, 25 Jordanian and 25 Israeli delegates will join the international delegates.
From Monica Willard, URI Representative to the United Nations in New York, about Holy Land, Living Water:
World Interfaith Harmony Week, February 1-7, was the framework for a most sacred, informative and prayerful journey to Jordan, Palestine and Israel. Presented by Unity Earth and EcoPeace (two URI Cooperation Circles) and URI, 92 people traveled together to visit sacred religious sites, held a conference at the Dead Sea, and performed sacred ceremonies, with a special emphasis on Interfaith cooperation for water protection and peace. See more.
Cooperation Circle: United Religions Initiative at the United Nations
Location: New York, NY, USA
There will be an Interfaith Service for World Interfaith Harmony Week in New York. About 80 participants are expected. This Interfaith Service will be at the end of a full-day workshop at the UN Church Center. The service will be open to the public at the Tillman Chapel for the UN and begin with music at 4:15 PM and end by 5 PM.
Cooperation Circle: Women's Interfaith Network of the URI (WIN-URI)
Location: Lake Mulshi, Nandivali, Maharashtra, India
We celebrated World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) at KARE, a beautiful Ayurveda Yoga center at Lake Mulshi, India. Guests gathered in the Yoga Hall from France, Germany, Chile, India, New Zealand, Poland, Casablanca, Israel, London, and Sudan. Faith expressions included Christian, Hindu, Jewish, and Catholic, as well as spiritual seekers, followers of nature, deep psychology, interfaith and people of no religion. There were 25 people ranging from 2 - 80 years old.
Cooperation Circle: Saudis for Peace
Location: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Saudis for Peace hosted the first celebration of WIHW in Saudi Arabian history. Seventy people attended the event, and we received a lot of good reviews about the event from the community. The speakers for the event were from different backgrounds, cities and beliefs. Saudis for Peace will continue to teach about interfaith cooperation, coexistence, and tolerance in Saudi Arabian communities by hosting 3 events a month.
URI Region: The URI Multiregion
Event title: Poetry reading: Harmony in Verses. The URI Multiregion hosted a Zoom call where members could enjoy poetry reading delivered by their fellow brothers and sisters, and share their selected verses with everyone attending the call.
Location: Boca Raton, Florida, USA
The event is titled "Transforming Bigotry and Hate: From Awareness to Action." Law enforcement reports that hate crime incidents in the US have increased 30% since 2015, and identifies more than 1,000 hate groups in the US; 75 of those are in Florida alone. If these statistics concern you, you will want to join us for this all-day conference that will help us understand root causes of hatred and bigotry and explore ways to create positive change. See more conference agenda details or view the Eventbrite page or Facebook event page. We expect about 200 participants and the workshops will result in a personal or community action plan.
Cooperation Circle: The Interfaith Center at Miami University
Location: Oxford, Ohio
About 100 people attended "Building Sacred Connections: Understanding How Implicit Biases Can Get in the Way of Building Meaningful Relationships." The Keynote Speaker is Priya D. Klocek, President & CEO, Consultant On The Go LLC. This 60-minute interactive session focuses on: The impact of our culture on how we see the world. How we can identify and manage our unconscious bias/blind spots? Tools and techniques on how we can mitigate unconscious bias are shared during the session. During World Interfaith Harmony Week, it is important for the Interfaith Center, Miami University, and the greater Oxford community to address religious biases which perpetuate misconceptions and create unsafe environments within our community. We hope that through this program, and similar initiatives by TIC, Miami University and Butler County will become a more welcoming place for people of all diverse religious, spiritual and secular traditions. See the Facebook page.
**This is an interactive live stream event!!** Our Oxford program will be lived streamed to a second location in Hamilton, Ohio, courtesy of a grant from the Hamilton Community Foundation. The live stream can also be accessed globally through a Zoom link which will be provided.
Location: New York, NY, USA
The 10th Annual World InterFaith Harmony Assembly of Central New York will gather for a special event on Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 from 6:30 to 8:00 pm, with a reception to follow. In recognition of our tenth anniversary, we have chosen the theme: “Growing Together: Celebrating Ten Years of InterFaith Harmony.”
Cooperation Circle: University of Rochester Interfaith Chapel
Location: Rochester, New York, USA
Religion and Climate Change: The Students' Association for Interfaith Cooperation is sponsoring an interfaith cafe for students of various religious backgrounds, and those of no religious background, to talk about the pressing issue of climate change. They will focus specifically on what various religious denominations and traditions are doing to promote care for the environment and sustainability, as well as brainstorm ways they can be advocates for climate justice. The "Religion and Science Interfaith Cafe" will be held on February 4 from 7-8 PM. About fifteen people are expected.
Cooperation Circle: University of Rochester Interfaith Chapel
Location: Rochester, New York, USA
World Interfaith Harmony Week Sand Mandala: An additional 50-70 people are expected on February 7, when local artist The Rev. Katie Jo Suddaby, who is trained in the creation of sand mandalas, having studied with monks in Nepal, will create a beautiful sand mandala incorporating themes of peace and reverence for the earth and its creatures. The sand mandala is created in the main lounge of the student commons building on campus. There are practice stations for students to learn how to help create the sand mandala and then students will help the artist create the mandala. At the end of the day, a destruction ceremony will be enacted. The event runs from 11 AM until 3 PM. See more on the Facebook page.
Cooperation Circle: LOTUS Center for All Faiths
Location: Buckingham, VA, USA
Interfaith Harmony Week Celebration with Swami Jyotirmayananda & Casey Devi: Monday, February 3, 7:30 pm at Sivananda Satsang Hall. There will be an Interfaith PowerPoint presentation by Swami Jyoti Ma; chanting with Casey Devi; and personal sharings by audience participants. There will also be a lunchtime Interfaith PowerPoint presentation by Swami Jyoti Ma; Chanting with Casey Devi; and personal sharings by audience participants.
Cooperation Circle: Think Round, Inc.
Location: San Francisco, CA, USA
Think Round, Inc. (TRI) started our celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week (WIHW) early, in September 2019, with our exhibition ‘Families of Abraham’ which presented a selection of 234 portraits of four Jewish, four Muslim, and four Christian families of different ethnicities who emigrated to America to make their homes and start a new life. These family portraits were on display September 29th - December 29th, 2019 at the following locations: Think Round Fine Arts, Calvary Presbyterian Church, Sherith Israel, and the Islamic Society of San Francisco. This show of interfaith camaraderie, respect, and admiration was a catalyst to unify all.
Richa Sharma, TRI volunteer, visited the UN for three days, courtesy of URI, in celebration of WIHW. Richa has been interviewed by Martha Gallahue and has interviewed Monica Willard on her connection with interfaith harmony and her experience story with UN-URI and will be interviewing Alice Swett, URI’s Director of Global Programs, who led her UN tour. Additionally, Richa will be interviewing her fellow attendees to the UN to learn of the impact of URI’s UN visit on all chosen to participate.
TRI supported Calvary Presbyterian God’s Great Earth Children’s Art Exhibition.
In the spirit of continued celebration WIHW, Think Round Fine Art’s current exhibit, ‘The Whole Earth/One Circle Again’ featuring twelve San Francisco fine artists, opened on February 1 and will be on display through February 29, 2020.
TRI also hosted a Spirit Boat Making Workshop on February 1st that was attended by more than twenty children, youth and their parents, who created their own Spirit Boats. Participants learned the spirit of teamwork while envisioning the journey from the visible to the invisible where they can manifest their own reality and heart’s desires.
TRI also posted all our documented work (photos and videos) on our social media accounts every day from February 1st-7th and will post throughout the month additional video footage.
These events and all activities combined have helped us promoting our vision ‘Earth is home. Humans are family’ and the idea of celebrating the difference between cultures and ending long-lasting conflicts between faiths and religions.
Cooperation Circle: Interfaith Café
Location: Boca Raton, FL, USA
BRIYA Day of Service: The Boca Raton Interfaith Youth Association had its first-ever day of service. What better place to do it than at an Interfaith house? We helped clean up the yard, flower beds, and paint at a local Family Promise House that helps homeless families with housing. We wanted something beautiful for the families to see while staying at the house. At the end of the day, the group decided that we must come back this year to do more!
Southeast Asia and the Pacific
Cooperation Circle: Pakigdait, Inc. CC
Location: Tangcal, Lanao Del Norte, The Philippines
In connection of the celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week, which is observed every first week of February, we held an interfaith listening session for Bangsamoro women and youth. It was hosted by the United Religions Initiative in coordination with the Local Government Unit of Tangcal, Lanao Del Norte, Philippines, in partnership with the Embassy of Canada in the Philippines and with the facilitation of Pakigdait Inc., a URI member group.
On February 5, 2020, Pakigdait, Inc. conducted a Listening Session for Women and Youth. Rest assured that this will not be the last engagement, but this is the starting point of advancing the path to peace, especially in the six municipalities of the Bangsamoro Area of Lanao Del Norte, living outside Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
Indeed, their voice really matters. At our end, as an Interfaith Grassroots Peace-building Organization, we will do our best to package the concerns and sentiments of the youth and women living outside BARMM and humbly present it to the Provincial Local Government of Lanao Del Norte and the BARMM Government. Together, we can "Talk and Walk for Peace."
See more photos in the Facebook post.
Cooperation Circle: Minority Rights Organization - MIRO CC
Location: Pursat Province, Cambodia
This interfaith event will take place in Pursat Province, a very remote area of Cambodia where a minority community lives. It is a floating village where there are many poor and displaced people settling to live. The hygiene and sanitation conditions there are really bad. There are Muslim, Vietnamese, and Khmer people living together. Children in particular suffer there, getting a poor education. So this will be the first such event that has ever happened in this village. The need for interfaith cooperation is great. Religious leaders play a vital role in this village. Sothearat Seoung, URI Regional Coordinator for the region, will work with religious leaders and facilitate them to working together to organize WIHW. This event will be a very important first step to stimulate interfaith cooperation in the community. About 50 to 100 participants are expected.