Religions Unite to Pray for Peace & Encouragement amid the Pandemic Crisis
While national measures against the pandemic were put in place to limit social activities brought about significant changes to our day-to-day lives, efforts to understand what all of these changes mean spiritually have been ongoing across the different religions.
On 14 December, 560 representatives from 31 religions in 80 countries including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism and Sikhism joined the online gathering named “HWPL End-of-year Religious Leaders’ Gathering: United Hopes & Prayers for a Brighter 2021.” This was to offer consolation to humanity and reaffirm inter-religious commitment to peace through dialogue.
Eleven religious leaders representing their respective religions prayed for humanity, and for wisdom and solution to the COVID-19 crisis. Other religious leaders, in their video messages, also urged participants to counter discrimination, hatred and violence that had exacerbated during the pandemic, emphasizing the importance of the role of religions in doing so.
During the prayer, Rev. Acharya Prem Shankaranand Tirth, Hindu High Priest of Shree Geeta Ashram of Delhi, said, “for our colleagues, families of peace, let us continue endeavor of world peace. During this pandemic, we must realize the value of one another in that we all coexist with the nature and other creations. We in the human society must act as one and should exist in peace, harmony and love.”
“I remember sitting at my desk and finding out about the first infection in my own country. I prayed, asking a lot of questions. Many of my peers turned back to scripture in these times to seek answers about the Creator God, His plan, His will and what He wants us to focus on due to these events,” said Ms. Nandi Bester, a youth member of HWPL in South Africa.
“Today we may be able to solve the problem of COVID-19, but another disease will come. When winter is coming, we can't stop it but can cover ourselves and protect ourselves. That's what we can do when there is challenging issue of bad health and adversities coming in life. We should maintain patience and learn the art of tolerance and tolerate the difficulty and suffering that is coming upon us,” said Rev. Hare Krsna Das, Priest of ISKCON, Rishikesh, India.
“Regarding the question about how human society should understand the suffering arising from a global pandemic such as COVID-19, we found that all religions are searching for an answer. In the process, those participating in this event, despite the time differences, prayed for the safety of all. This is a clear contrast from the time when news of intolerance against certain groups filled news stations at the peak of the pandemic. In this respect, it has proved the possibility that humanity, regardless of religious or cultural backgrounds, can unite as one in peace in times of crisis,” said a HWPL representative.
The meeting ended with a video of peace messengers around the world singing “We are the World”. Even though the meeting ended, the participants continued to wave goodbye and promised to meet again in good health in the New Year. It is with an earnest heart that participants prayed sincerely for the suffering caused by the pandemic to come to an end sooner and for the return to our ordinary day-to-day lives.