Sikkim University, Gangtok organized an Interfaith Convention on Global Peace and Social Harmony

    Department of Peace and Conflict Studies and Management, Sikkim University is a unique academic department in India which is working for Peace formation through education as well as organizing different programme on it i.e. Interaction of student peace promotion, research work, seminars workshop, prayers, walk and run etc. Every year, on the occasion of “International day of Peace”, the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies and Management, Sikkim University celebrate international peace day. On 21st September, 2015, in collaboration with National foundation for Communal Harmony, New Delhi the department celebrated the day with great enthusiasm. The theme of this year’s commemoration was “Partnership for Peace-Dignity for All” which aims to highlight the importance of all segments of society to work together to strive for peace.

    With this aim and objective the department initiated one day programme with joint coordination of National Foundation for Communal Harmony, New Delhi, and National Service Scheme, Sikkim University Unit. The daylong programme included three main segments (1) “Walk for Peace” in morning, (2) Interfaith Meet for “Partnership for Peace-Dignity for All” and (3) cultural programme in evening. Peace walk was conducted at Mahatma Gandhi Marge at 8.00A.M under the leadership of Mr.Hemant Kumar Yadav (National Youth Awardee), Ph. D Scholar of the Department. The walk was attended by Dr. Sujata Upadhya NSS Coordinator and Dr. Suhash Mishra Programme Officer and Volunteers of NSS. The walk was organized to spread the message of peace, national integration and communal harmony through the placard.

    The Second session organized in the auditorium of the Department of Tourism,Government of Sikkim. Invited speakers from different religion of India spread the message of communal harmony, national integration and brotherhood. The programme was started by the rendering of aNepali chorus by the students of the department of peace and conflict studies and management.Through this peace song, students appealed to the people to respect the dignity and right of the others, through which we can fulfill the themes of Peace. Head of the Department, Dr. Nawal K Paswan has delivered the welcome speech after lighting of lamp which was also assisted by invitees from different religion and Zonal Director-NYKS Gangtok, Prof. T. B. Subba, Vice Chancellor of Sikkim University, Chief Guest, Sri Sushil Pyakurel, Former Commissioner, Human Rights Commission, Nepal and other dignitary of the programme.

    Speaking on the messages of peace that Islam preaches, Md. Asghar Ali, Imam of Jama Masjid, Gangtok, clearly described some of the principles of Islam that teaches brotherhood, equality, kindness and humanity as a fountain head of universal peace process. He narrated the waqia (story) described in Hadith (teaching of prophet) that Prophet Muhammad had once said that if you prepare curry at your home, then pour more water so that your neighbor could get something. In another incident it was also said in Holy Qur’an that do not kill innocent lives which indicates that killing or act of violence is not allowed in this religion. Yes, it is some fringe elements do it in the name of Islam which needs to be condemned.

    Throwing light on another aspect of Islam the Imam had said that never in his life time had fought an offensive war from his own side, and it was always defense war or in retaliation. He also spoke and quoted from the Holy Qur’an that if situation arises for a compromise, never hesitate to do to preserve peace. Hence, Islam is a religion of peace and will always remain so. In his concluding remarks, imam appealed to the youths to maintain peace and stay away from all kind of violence. After all, Islam teaches that if someone become happy by your smile, then always smile.It speaks high on the universal love and brotherhood.

    Another invitee Sri Mohan Sharma from NamachiChar Dham of South Sikkim elaborates the concept of Hinduism. He told how Hindu religion is not a religion of one group but of entire mankind so we call it as Sanatan. In fact, it is a way of life. It is well known and very universally quoted line, “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” taken from Hitopidesh, which means the whole world as one family. Hence, the religion asks all the people to live together amicably. So we should spread love, harmony, cooperation and mutual support to other beyond your family and communities. The different modes of worship highlights that you are not bound by a particular force and accommodate and have faith according to your choice. The speaker from Hindu religion also talked about tolerance and perseverance an ultimate virtue. He also asks the people to shed hatred and accept all irrespective of caste, creed, and, community and beyond. Humanity is the highest virtue and everybody should endeavor to achieve that. So, peace could be maintained, and harmony prevails. The earth is the garden of God, let us not spoil it. Let us not annoy God by what he has created with love, concluded by Sri Mohan Sharma.

    Speaker from Buddhist religion Sri Khenpo Chowang Acharya, emphasized to establish peace, the representative of Buddhist religion stated that the creation of Buddhism is in itself an act of protest against cruelties, injustice, torture and inhuman value. Hence, he maintained that Lord Buddha in his life time had always been a symbol of peace and also asked his followers to maintain peace, non-violence and compassion towards other. He asks why and what is the reason today in the world we don’t have peace, though in past it was maintained by our ancestors. Thus, peace is the onlyway-out to maintain love and affection in the world.

    The next speaker Sri Nabin Naik, Zonal Director, NYKS, Gangtok, further elaborated the message of peace by saying that the youths are the messenger of peace and they can maintain peace in the contemporary society He urged to the youth to come forward and take the initiative of peace and the idea of ‘Live and Let Live’.

    Sri Sushil Pyakurel, former Commissioner, Human Rights Commission, Nepal address the audience as a chief guest and key note speaker of the programme. He discusses his personal experience of living and learning while living with the people from diverse faiths and beliefs. “Interfaith cohabitation is not only an important subject for me but it feeds into my philosophy of life, which is based on empathy, the ability to feel the emotions of the other person” he said. He spoke on diversity which is one of the significant building blocks of South Asia, and how we cannot imagine a South Asia in the absence of pluralism and diversity. We are the inheritors of a rich region with richest economic, social and cultural diversity, and a region which has been the fount or origin point of so many faiths, religions and philosophies.

    Prof. T.B. Subba, Vice Chancellor, Sikkim University also graced the occasion and threw light on the message of peace on the World Peace Da. In his presidential address he stated that tolerance is the biggest requirement of having peace everywhere and those who tolerate others can spread peace and those who does not do this are the real threats to the global peace. Hence, he said that to maintain and ensure tolerance inside one-self is the basic condition for universal peace. He requested the students in to nurture tolerance as the main principle of their life and maintain it in and out of University so that a positive message is disseminated to the public through the student.

    A representative from National Foundation of Communal Harmony, Sri Sourabh Dubey, Assistant Secretary, has focused in his speech on work of NFCH and way to help the victims of terror and building peace and national integration in India. Sri T. K. Kaul, Registrar of Sikkim University has pointed out the unique way for peace promotion in his vote of thanks address. Following the Vote of Thanks note, the presiding authority of the program adjourns the academic session of the events summoning the session of Cultural programs.

    The successful academic session was followed by a colourful cultural extravaganza and the session was hosted by Tikendra Kumar Chhetry and NimkitLepcha, the research scholars from the organizing department. Students of various departments from Sikkim University along with invited guest artists preformed a good number of colourful cultural items. The session was dominantly an exhibition of various ethnic dances from Northeast region as well as other parts of country. Cultural like Maruni, sangini, Jhyaure, Bihu, Bandana, etc were cetral focus of the session. The session was attended by large number of students, scholars, the invited guests in presence of Prof. T. B. Subba, the vice-Chancellor of the University, Mr. Sushil Pyakurel, the keynote speaker of academic session and Dr. Nawal K. Paswan, the Dean of Social Sciences and HOD of department of Peace of Conflict Studies, Sikkim University. The Programme was concluded by beautiful cultural performances by the university students from different departments. There were around 300 participants enjoyed the cultural programme and around 30 items (folk songs and performance) of local songs and performance by the students, faculty and local people of Sikkim to spread cultural peace and harmony in the region and country.