PHM Sri Lanka: Symposium on religious reconciliation for Peace

17 Feb 2014

The Peoples’ Health Movement (PHM) and Womens’ Action for Social Justice jointly held the above Symposium on Thursday, 13 February 2014 in Colombo. It was very well attended and carried on in a successful manner.

It was explained why we thought of holding such a Seminar and informed that Sri Lanka is presently undergoing disturbances for religious harmony. It was informed that we, belonging to a Movement working for Peace, it is of utmost importance that we intervene in this situation.

Sirimal Peiris of PHM took the Chair and explained the objectives of this Symposium and stated that some places of worship of minority religions have been attacked by extremists over the past few months. He mentioned that the expectation of all religions is Peace, but there have been many instances that the mere idea of Peace is shattered in the very name of the religion. He further stated that this situation cannot be allowed with the real meaning of Compassion in Buddhism, Love from Hinduism, Brotherhood from Islam and Love and Peace from Christianity. The above mentioned 4 elements are the main themes for Social Reconciliation. He stressed that we must not allow to destroy the valuable religious teachings learned from each of our respective religions. Within the society, there will be social disharmony from hatred, suspicion, forcefulness and disrespect etc. It was mentioned that in order to avoid a conflict situation in the country, an inter-religious dialogue of this nature is organized and hence it is our objective to enter into a healthy dialogue for religious harmony and peace among all religions.

A Roman Catholic Priest/ Scholar was then invited to address the gathering. In his address, he mentioned that he can introduce human beings as animals and said that they get civilized by way of sports, art and religion. Sports develop each one’s personality, art helps to appreciate and religion gives us spiritual expectations. Today, all these three attributes have got polluted and how religions can be purified is one of the major problems facing us.

A prominent Islam preacher explained the religious harmony prevailed among the Buddhists and the Muslims some time back in his village. He informed that the land of about 4 Acres to build the Mosque in his village was donated by a Sinhala Buddhist person. He also mentioned that the access road leading to the village Buddhist temple was donated and re-laid by a Muslim. Therefore, it is evident that a healthy religious harmony was prevalent those days. Hence, this type of dialogue is of paramount importance to bring back a harmonious situation in the country among all religions.

The Co-Chairman of Inter-Religious Organization was then invited to address the gathering and he informed that religious harmony among other religions have been taught in Buddhism which is great and meaningful. Listening to views of the others were one of Lord Buddha’s teachings and he stated that the biggest problem in today’s society is people do not practice a religion. Buddhists should not have any fear and complex about other religions as the Buddhist Priests are the leaders of Sri Lankan society. No one cannot damage Buddhism, but Buddhist teachings has to be followed. Therefore, by way of this we can achieve and establish religious reconciliation and harmony.

If we have to respect each one’s identity and also listen to other’s ideas and views. Religion should not be an invasion and bring on freedom.

After that a period of dialogue was opened to the gathering. Everybody who spoke emphasized the need to carry on the ideas they have acquired from this Dialogue in their respective areas in order to bring about religious reconciliation and peace.

Activists who are engaged in social harmony from many districts of Sri Lanka were present. The proceedings of the dialogue was done both in Sinhala and Tamil Languages by giving simultaneous translations. Required facilities were provided by Sarvodaya and Savisthri. The meeting was conducted by Rev. Sr. Noel Christine.

Sirimal Peirs



15 February 2014

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