Representatives of seven faiths joined with community leaders and local residents at a service for the International Day of Peace at the Baha’i Temple in Sydney on the evening of Saturday, 28 September 2013.
The Temple was specially illuminated for the occasion, its light spreading to the eucalyptus bushland that forms its backdrop.
Members of the Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, and Zoroastrian communities read extracts from their sacred scriptures, with the readings interspersed by songs of worship from the Temple choir.
Among the guests were the State MP for Davidson, Jonathan O’Dea, and the Mayor of Pittwater, Cr Jacqueline Townsend. Also attending were two members of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Australia, Dr Arini Beaumaris and Professor Fariborz Moshirian.
In her introduction at a reception before the service, the MC, Venus Khalessi, addressed the theme of the evening, drawing from “The Promise of World Peace”, a statement issued by the international governing body of the Baha’i Faith, the Universal House of Justice.
“Peace is not just the mere absence of war but a state of being governed by spiritual principles,” said Ms Khalessi, the Director of Public Information for the Australian Baha’i Community.
Mr O’Dea MP, who was representing the Minister of Citizenship and Communities, Victor Dominello, said the shared experience of the interfaith service further strengthens the community both locally and in the wider sense.
“It promotes mutual understanding and provides an opportunity for us to learn from each other’s experience,” Mr O’Dea said.
“What the Baha’i community admirably does is try to look for commonalities rather than differences and I commend them on that.”
Cr Townsend backed a call by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to teach children tolerance and mutual respect and to invest in schools and teachers to build a fair and inclusive world.
“Our community is made whole by the sum of its parts –each of us, our cultures, our faiths, our heritage, our life experiences, form our make-up,” she said.
Cr Townsend said it was fortunate that one of seven Baha’i temples in the world was in Ingleside.
“The Baha’i Temple is a place where we can unite in worship regardless of our faith and our heritage.”
Scheduling arrangements meant that the event was held a week after the official International Day of Peace.
The readers were:
- Baha’i Faith: Dr Arini Beaumaris and Professor Fariborz Moshirian
- uddhism: Mr Sach Mohotti
- Christianity: Ms Ashleigh Green (Columban Mission Institute)
- Hinduism: Professor Nihal Agar (Hindu Council of Australia)
- Islam: Ms Asma Yusra (Mission of Hope)
- Judaism: Ms Lynda Ben-Menashe (NSW Jewish Board of Deputies)
- Zoroastrianism: Mr Minoo Batliwalla
Gathering for World Peace at the Baha’i Temple, Mona Vale, Australia