BUENA PARK, CA - Three organizations, the Jain Center of Southern California, Anekant Community Center and Indian American Senior Heritage, came together and presented a discussion on ‘Celebration of Peace: Peace Strategies from Diverse Religions and Traditions in Today’s World’ at the Jain Center here, on Oct. 2.
Overall, the point of the event was to emphasize the need for respect, peace, and understanding of the other person’s point of view. “Respect each other and their perspectives,” as Kantilal Shah, President of ACC succinctly said.
The event began appropriately enough with a multi-faith prayer as well as a lighting of the lamp. Then the first of two moderators, Dr. Gunvant Mehta, introduced a set of speakers. Dr. Veena Howard, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at CSU Fresno, came on stage to speak about Gandhi as a Peace Leader and Hindu. “Gandhi used religious vows to fulfill revolutionary means,” said Howard. Ed Green, President of South Coast Interfaith Council, gave a short, sweet, and simple speech about peace in Judaism. “May Gandhi’s legacy be in the hearts of all mankind,” said Green.
The Jain perspective on peace came from Hasendra Shah, who reminded us to be more respectful of others as well as to maintain a sense of balance. “Jainism’s approach is that the individual needs to be peaceful before the society, community, and the world,” he said. The second set of speakers was introduced by moderator Dr.Jayesh Shah.
Thay Hang Troung, Founder of Compassionate Service Society, spoke on behalf of Buddhism. Troung talked about his visit to the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center after the Sept 11 attacks and reflected on his experience while there. “We connect through human experiences,” said Troung. Imam Mohammed Zafarullah, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, said that many have tarnished the name of Islam but that is the opposite of the actualities of the religion. “Have patience and pray to God for a sense of peace,” is what the faith says, he said. Dr. Nirinjan Kaur Khalsa, Clinical Professor in Jain and Sikh Studies at Loyola Marymount University, with a PowerPoint presentation spoke from the Sikh perspective. “If you cannot see God in all then you cannot see God at all,” said Khalsa, which garnered much audience appreciation. Co–founder of Zoroastrian Association of California, Maneck Bhujwala said, “Conversion creates a distrust and a sense of disrespect.” He explained that this sense of distrust and disrespect occurs because it creates a feeling of one religion’s superiority over others for more people to convert into another religion. Dr. Philip Clayton, Former Dean and Senior Vice President Claremont School of Theology said, “Every action of compassion is an action to God,” and spoke about helping others and being kind to all. Clayton closed by saying something that resonated with everyone in the audience: Never has our world needed more peace. In a break between speeches, Artesia Mayor Pro Tem, Ali S Taj handed out Certificates of Recognition to the presidents of the organizations which was received by Virendra Shah (JCSC), Kantilal Shah (ACC), and Jagdish Purohit (IASH). The event came to a close with the rendering of the popular song “Jyot Se Jyot.”