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This Press Release may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-21-09-2006-03.htm

Press Release: 21nd September 2006, 7th Assu (Samvat 538 Nanakshahi)

UNITED SIKHS Co-Sponsors Interfaith Prayer to Mark the Opening of 61st UN General Assembly

New York – Religious leaders representing up to 30 faith traditions from all over the world attended an interfaith prayer service on Sept 12 th to mark the opening of the 61 st United Nations General Assembly.

The introductions were led by Hiro Sakurai, Committee of Religious NGOs and Rev. William Tully, St. Bartholomew’s Church. This was followed by prayers from the Native American, Buddhist, Muslim, Bahai, Shinto, Taoist, Sikh, Hindu, Jewish, African Traditional Religions, Yoruba and the Zoroastrian prayers.

The 61st Opening ceremony of the UN was opened by Singh Saheb Jagtar Singh Jachak

The event, which was organized by the Interfaith Center for New York and co-sponsored by UNITED SIKHS, was held at the St. Bartholomew’s church, NYC. Singh Saheb, Giani Jagtar Singh Jachak, representing UNITED SIKHS, addressed the gathering by reading a verse from the Sikh scriptures, the Sri Guru Granth Saheb.

salok mehlaa 5.
Shalok, Fifth Mehl:

sabhay jee-a samaal apnee mihar kar.
In Your Mercy, You care for all beings and creatures.

ann paanee much upaa-ay dukh daalad bhann tar.
You produce corn and water in abundance; You eliminate pain and poverty, and carry all beings across.

ardaas sunee daataar ho-ee sisat thar.
The Great Giver listened to my prayer, and the world has been cooled and comforted.

layvhu kanth lagaa-ay apdaa sabh har.
Take me into Your Embrace, and take away all my pain.

naanak naam Dhi-aa-ay parabh kaa safal ghar. ||1||
Nanak meditates on the Naam, the Name of the Lord; the House of God is fruitful and prosperous. ||1||

—(Guru Arjan Sahib, Raag Saarang, 125)

Amongst the dignitaries who attended were: the new president of the United Nations General Assembly Haya Rashed Al-Khalifa, the non-resident ambassadors to Belgium , Switzerland , and Spain , and a permanent delegate to UNESCO.

Secretary General Kofi Annan, who couldn’t attend the session, said in a message, “(The) gathering of the world’s pre-eminent religious and spiritual leaders in a united call for peace will hopefully strengthen the prospect for peace (…).”

Former President Bill Clinton’s message, said, “We must respect others, because we’re not smart enough to do otherwise, or wise enough to do other-wise. This is the ultimate thing that will always separate the fanatics from the searchers, the dividers from the communitarians.”

Sikh participants at the UN General Assembly Event

Matt Weiner, Executive Director, of Interfaith Center of New York said, “T he purpose of this service is to have all of the world’s religious traditions, through their leaders to pray for the peacemaking work of the United Nations.  New York City is the home of virtually every religious community in the world, and so here, we have a good opportunity to do this. Our hope as well is that the United Nations begins to see the important role that religion plays in the peacemaking efforts and humanitarian aid efforts it seeks to succeed in.”

UNITED SIKHS Director, Kuldip Singh, said, “Religion can play an important role in transforming society in positive ways. Violence often spreads where fundamental freedoms are not safeguarded. Sometimes governments themselves may deny these rights and/or there may be tensions within and between religious groups themselves. For all of these reasons, it is imperative for everyone to understand the human rights guarantees that are enshrined in international law.”

The closing ceremony was followed by breakfast when various dignitaries and religious leaders met with each other and discussed possibilities of joint projects to promote peace and harmony.

To see pictures please click here: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/multifaith/icny

Issued by:
Arvind Kaur
Multifaith Program Coordinator

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