March for peace begins with a tribute to the martyred soldiers in Kashmir
by Nirmala Carvalho

The Christian cultural center Vishwa Jyoti Communications organizes a pilgrimage from Nepal to Uttar Pradesh. The stages are rich in symbolic meanings, and recall the message of harmony and compassion of the Buddha. Fr. Anand: "Jesus challenges me to love my neighbor and his enemy".


Mumbai (AsiaNews) - From Nepal to Uttar Pradesh (India), to reaffirm the need for peace, harmony and non-violence: this is the aim of the Yatra [pilgrimage, ed.] Called "From Buddha to Kabir", a march for peace left February 14 from Lumbini and directed to Magahar, where it is due to arrive tomorrow. The event is an initiative of the Christian cultural center Vishwa Jyoti Communications, which has already organized similar pilgrimages in the past.

Yesterday, the participants' journey set out from Kushinagar. Before returning to their journey, the pilgrims paid tribute to the soldiers killed in Kashmir two days ago, victims of an attacker affiliated to a Pakistani Islamic fundamentalist group. 

Speaking to AsiaNews Fr. Anand Mathew, director of the center, said: "The tribute lasted about 90 minutes, in honor of the martyred soldiers who lost their lives to ensure the safety of this nation. Let us pray for the eternal peace of the fallen and ask God to give comfort to their families ".

What happened in Kashmir, the priest continues, "makes us understand that the time has come to engage in the fight against external and internal terrorism, and to work in favor of composite culture, peace and harmony. Every attempt to impose uniformity and exclusivity leads to violence ". 

Later civil society figures, school students and other intellectuals lit candles and placed them on the Buddhist stupa Ramabhar of Kushinagar. Meanwhile, the artists of the Prerana Kala Manch, the theater company of the center, sang patriotic songs.

The places where the march stops are very symbolic: Lumbini, in Nepal, is the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, an example of peace, compassion and non-violence; Magahar, in Uttar Pradesh, is instead the place where Kabir Das, the great Indian poet of "composite culture", is buried. Throughout the trip, attended by about 500 people of every culture and religion, the theater group stages performances on the long tradition of love and respect for Indian culture.

Fr. Anand explains: "I take part in this Yatra as a believer of Jesus, who challenges me to love his neighbor and his enemies, regardless of their origin. Jesus also challenges me with these words: 'For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?' (Mt 5:46) ". Finally, he affirms: "Even Pope Francis inspires me to meet people of different faith and bring unity and harmony among all. This is why I spend so much of my time promoting the composite culture ".

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