Bangkok (AsiaNews) Making students from different religious backgrounds understand the importance of religion and ethics in everyday life so as to promote religious awareness and inter-faith dialogue are the themes of the 'Week of Religion and Ethics' presented at the Israeli Embassy in Bangkok from December 14 to 17.
As part of the event, more than 2,500 participants, among them many pupils and students, were asked to write on a heart-shaped card what they thought made a family happy. This way they could share their respective ideas and experiences.
The initiative was inspired by the theme 'Ethics and Love bring awareness of a family's values' and involves exhibits and meetings about the world's main religions: Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Buddhism.
One exhibit uses a set of maps to present the history of Jerusalem, the city King David chose 3,000 years ago as the capital of the Jewish state. It comprises maps and views of both the city itself and the land of which it constitutes the heart and soul.
'The Holy City of Jerusalem' is the earliest clear and detailed map ever found of the city holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims. Indeed, Jerusalem is known around the world, so much so that half of the students present said they knew its history and traditions.
Another exhibit is dedicated to Tripidok, a Buddhist doctrine popular throughout Thailand but not well-documented.
But the event was more than exhibits; it was about young people and their experiences. Thanchanok Imlertwong, an 8-year-old Buddhist pupil, said that she goes regularly to the temple with his mother to pray "on every significant Buddhist holiday", but is less knowledgeable of other religions. Asked about Jesus, she replied: "I used to know him but now I forgot who he is."
Sunetra Karrear, a 16-year-old Muslim girl, read passages from the Qu'ran. She has been attending Assumption Suksa school (a Christian school run by Fr Khomtune Suksuthip) since her childhood and said that "having different religious beliefs has never been a problem [because] at home my parents teach me the principles of the Qu'ran everyday so that I may really understand Islamic teachings and be pious in Allah."
In Thailand, the mission of Catholic schools is to provide education in accordance with the plans of the Ministry of Education, promote the integrity of the community, and stimulate intellectual growth, artistic endeavor and culture.