12/24/2016, 18.23
Send to a friend

An exceptional exchange of greetings among Christians, Muslims, Sikhs, Jains and Hindus in Varanasi (photos)

by Nirmala Carvalho

An interfaith group engaged in intercommunal dialogue organised the event. Believers and leaders of various faiths celebrated the births of Muhammad, Jesus, the 10th Sikh guru, the 23rd Jain tirthankara and a Hindu harvest festival.

Mumbai (AsiaNews) - In Varanasi, the Hindu holy city, members of the Christian, Islamic, Sikh, Jain and Hindu communities exchanged greetings.

The Kashi Qaumi Ekta Manch or United Forum of Communal harmony of Kashi/Varanasi was behind this exceptional event. This inter-faith group is dedicated to developing a climate of dialogue and reconciliation among the city’s various communities.

"For 16 years, Christians have led this program to promote harmony, peace and inter-faith cooperation,” said Anand Mathew, the group's founder and coordinator of the Vishwa Jyoti Communications, the information centre of the Indian Missionary Society, speaking to AsiaNews.

Last Wednesday, believers and religious leaders from various denominations met to celebrate the sacred moments of their respective creeds: the birth of Muhammad (12 December), the birth of 23rd Jain tirthankara – Parshvanatha – (23 December), the coming of Jesus Christ (December 25), the birth of the 10th Sikh Guru Govind Singh (5 January), and the Hindu festival of Makar Sankranti harvest (January 15).

Participants chanted Vedic hymns from the Hindu and Jain traditions, as well as Christmas carols.

Fr Anildev, the Acharya of Matri Dham ashram (i.e. abode of the mother, dedicated to the Virgin Mary), pointed out that "Jesus was born in a manger to proclaim God’ love for humanity and bring peace to people of goodwill. This means that people must be willing to open their hearts to others."

“Christmas,” he added, "is an opportunity to join Jesus’ mission to reconcile the whole universe with love".

Anand Prakash Tiwary, a Hindu, said that the Makar Sankranti festival "is an invitation to return to nature, to create a better environment, and reject modernity that leads to destruction in the name of development."

Mohammad Arif Khan, a Muslim, said that the Qurʾān, the holy book for Muhammad’s followers, "promotes respect for people of different faiths."

Finally, Dr Kamaluddin Sheikh, an intellectual, appealed for "harmonious coexistence" among believers and religions.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”