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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Interfaith Prayers for Myanmar

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Related post: The mess that is Myanmar

Interfaith gatherings are a rarity in Malaysia. Almost as rare as ever hoping to see Beyonce performing in Kuala Lumpur... But on Tuesday, October 2, 2007, religious differences were put aside, to offer prayers for the sake of the people of Myanmar. And Walski was there to offer his.

Image hosting by PhotobucketA multifaith vigil for the people of Myanmar

Two things that made this particular interfaith prayer meeting even more unique. The first is that it was held on an evening in the month of Ramadhan. Secondly, it was held at a venue that was not associated with Islam - specifically, it was held at the Buddhist Maha Vihara, in Kuala Lumpur (those familiar with the social situation in Malaysia will understand why this is unusual).

Basing on some of the reactions Walski's read about Marina M organizing a multifaith "doa selamat" (thanksgiving prayers, loosely translated) some weeks ago, he can almost hear many Malay/Muslims start to scream bloody murtad reading about this...
(more pictures from the multifaith event, and then some, in the full post)

But, be that as it may, the service was a moving one for Walski. And one common thread that tied all the faiths represented - the importance placed on peace.

Underlying the divergent faiths was another important commonality - that the human concern for the well-being our brothers and sisters in Myanmar was paramount. And if you think that this realization is not important enough for a multifaith prayer service, then you really need to go get your humanity examined.

The light of one candle...Image hosting by Photobucket

... joining the illumination of many other candles...Image hosting by Photobucket the many paths, collectively...Image hosting by Photobucket

...united in one voice, for Peace and HumanityImage hosting by Photobucket

As seen in the last picture above, just about all the major faiths in Malaysia were represented. Islam was represented by Dr. Amir Farid Isahak (Chairman, Interfaith Spiritual Fellowship [INSAF]), Christianity by Rev. Dr. Philip Thomas (Vicar/President, Orthodox Syrian Church), Hinduism by HH Swami Arunasalam Kurukal, and Sikhism by Giani Lakhbir Singh. Presiding and hosting was the representative of the Buddhist faith, Ven. Dr. K Sri Dhammaratana Maha Nayaka Thera, Chief High Priest of Malaysia.

If you've never been to one of these multifaith prayer gatherings, this is how it works:

Everyone is in the hall, side by side regardless of your faith. In this case, represented were (from left to right in the picture above) Sikhism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam and Hinduism. Each of the leaders of the respective faiths, taking turns, will recite a prayer, and those in the audience of a particular faith follows or observes these prayers. When the leader of a faith that's not yours recites his/her prayers, you remain silent, in respect.

So, it's not like everybody prays according to everybody elses faiths, as some would tell you.

Meanwhile, pertaining to the situation in Myanmar, there are two YouTube videos, courtesy of the Al-Jazeera channel, that provides us with a view of how Myanmar got the way it is today, plus images and reports of the current sitution. These were taken from a People & Power special report, initially broadcast on September 30th.

Myanmar's Future (Part 1)

Myanmar's Future (Part 2)

Speaking of the monks, Walski was alerted earlier today to a petition to nominate the Myanmar Sangha (Monks) for the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize (hat-tip: Marina M). Go sign it, if you feel they are deserving of a nomination... and if you are undecided, watch the two YouTube videos above first.

There is one other thing that Walski needs to do for today, with regards to Myanmar/Burma... but that will have to come in a separate post later today. For a hint, and if you wanna participate, go take a look-see here.

Stay tuned!