Hindu leaders honor the Jade Buddha and pray
for universal peace. (Photo: Dr. Deb Brown)
This article is the third of a three-part series describing the opening ceremony for the Jade Buddha for Universal Peace on April 10, 2010, at the Wat Buddharangsi Buddhist Temple in Miami, Florida. (Click here to read Part One.)
Once the Jade Buddha was unveiled, interfaith blessings and prayers from local religious leaders began. First, Buddhist chanting for world peace was offered by the Thai Abbot and monks, the Drepung Loseling Temple Monks, and the Vietnamese Abbot, monks, and nuns.
Then Dr. Piyush Agrawal stepped up to the podium. A former UN Expert in Education, Dr. Agrawal gave a sweeping gesture across the diverse crowd and said with enthusiasm, “Look at everyone here! Education is the real process. Education is the key. We can educate ourselves about the goodness of every religion and then peace can prevail.” Dr. Agrawal then joined Hindu priest Mr. Vijay Raghran, Dr. Narendra Upadhay, and three Hindu women in a chant of Hindu prayers, including:
Lead us from darkness to light
From ignorance to truth
And from death to eternity
Let peace prevail everywhere (OM SHANTI, SHANTI, SHANTI)
Next up to the podium was Sheikh Ismet Akcin, the Leader of the Miami Gardens Mosque, who offered inspirational words from Advocate of Dialogue: Fethullah Gülen, including:
- "The Qur’an always takes forgiveness and tolerance as basic principles."
- "The character of heroes of tolerance…When God sent Moses and Aaron to a man with claims to divinity like the Pharaoh, He commanded them to behave tolerantly and to speak softly."
- "Muslims…must behave with tolerance and forbearance and expect nothing from the other party… not striking those who hit them, not replying in kind to those who curse them, and not holding any secret grudge against those who abuse them."
Following the Sheikh’s words, the emcee paused a moment to reflect: “I think it’s amazing we’re bringing together different religions and following the same Light.” Then he introduced Reverend Fred Fleischer of the Church of the Incarnation in Miami. Rev. Fleischer said, “Our egos are at war with one another for power, possessions, and wealth. We must all learn that we are all children of Mother Earth. We are all members of one family. You are me and I am you and we are all one.”
Jewish rabbis were not present for the ceremony, but the program noted they “will be in prayer with us as they observe the Sabbath.”
The ceremony concluded with prayers to liberate all beings as the monks released white doves and many other small birds. The Jade Buddha will remain at the Wat Buddharangsi Buddhist Temple through April 18, when a closing ceremony will take place at 4:00.