"International Day of Peace" Observed in Singapore
In 2001, the United Nations designated September 21 as the International Day of Peace with an aim of "strengthening the ideals of peace and alleviating tensions and causes of conflicts." On September 21, 2007, the Singapore Soka Association (SSA) cosponsored an event titled, "May Peace Prevail on Earth," to commemorate International Day of Peace, together with Mercy Relief, Jamiyah Singapore, the Young Sikh Association and the Inter-Religious Organization. Some 200 people from various religious and civic organizations gathered at the SSA Friendship Hall for an interfaith exchange.
Mercy Relief Chair T. K. Udairam welcomed the participants, stating they had come together from a broad cross-section of cultures, religions and ethnicities "to say in unison that we have chosen peace." He continued, "It has to begin with small steps--love and harmony in our families, patience and forgiveness at work, understanding and cohesiveness in our society and compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves." Guest of Honor Professor Tham Seong Chee, president of the United Nations Association of Singapore, reminded the participants that while appreciating the harmony and goodwill that pervades Singaporean society, they must also remember that the state of peace requires continuous commitment and effort. He stated, "Ensuring peace and preserving it is everyone's concern."
An eight-minute video, titled "Peace One Day," recounted British filmmaker Jeremy Gilley's efforts to establish the "international day of peace." Eight religious leaders representing Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Taoism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism and the Bahá'i then took the stage to offer prayers for peace.
A cultural segment began with SSA's Soka Chorus singing Italian and Zulu love songs, "Nella Fantasia" (In my Fantasy) and "Nginisiponono sase the kwi" (I Have a Lover in Durban). Four dancers from the Young Sikh Association charmed the audience with the energetic, vibrant Bhangra, a lively harvest folk dance from Punjab. This was followed by local singer Robert Fernando performing "Fly Me to the Moon" and an impromptu acapella rendition of "What the World Needs Now." Emcee and radio personality Vernetta Lopez closed the show with a recitation of "In Flanders Fields," a poem penned by Lieutenant Colonel McCrae, a Canadian military doctor who wrote about the poppy fields in Flanders (Belgium) where many war casualties were buried during World War I. As they left, each audience member was presented with a white poppy, symbolizing peace.
On display at the event were three exhibitions sponsored by Jamiyah Singapore, Mercy Relief and SSA, respectively, highlighting the peace efforts of individuals who made a difference with their acts of courage.
[Adapted from an article in the October 10, 2007 issue of the SSA Times, Singapore Soka Association; photos courtesy of SSA]