Four Day Interfaith Harmony Journey held in Mymensingh, Bangladesh

Shanti Mitra Somaj Kolyan Songstha has organized 4 day interfaith harmony journey in Mymensingh, Bangladesh on 2nd December to 5th December, 2019. The theme of this Interfaith Journey was ‘Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living together’. The theme is a joint statement signed by Pope Francis of the Catholic Church and Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, on 4th February, 2019 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. There were several activities during the 4 day journey.

Participants of Youth Peace Seminar, 2019
Youth Peace Seminar
Youth Peace Seminar held on 2nd December, 2019 in John Paul Hall, Bishop House, Vatikashor, Mymensingh. Around 80 participants from different college and universities and also from different religious background took part in the seminar. The seminar was held with key note speech on the signed statement By Fr. Dr. George Komol Rozario, the principal of Notre Dame College, Mymensingh. Panel discussion by Dr. Bimal Kanti Dey from Sonaton religion, Br. Guillaume from Christianity and Dr. Md. Wahab from Islam, Group work and presentation, Open Discussion, Question Session, learning and sharing session by the participants were took place.
The Executive directors of Shanti Mitra, Subarna Poli Drong run the program and the Executive Director of Protibondhi Community Centre, Dr. Anjan Kumar Chicham was the president of the panel. Fr. Dr. George Komol Rozario inaugurated the ceremony as the chief guest by lighting candle. The other guests, panel discussers and participants from three different religions also lighted candles for peace. Then recitation of scriptures from three religions and silent keeping were come and peace song was played by the artistic team of Shanti Mitra. After finishing the inauguration segment the chief guest Fr. Dr. George Komol Rozario presented his key note speech on ‘Human Fraternity’. It was wonderful presentation with some inspirational stories for the youth. Following key note speech group work and presentation were held by the participants.

During group discussion in Youth Peace Seminar, 2019
Panel discussion happened by three different religions leaders on ‘Human Fraternity’. Reflection, learning of the participants and questions came following the panel discussion. One of the participants Sabiha said, “All the speakers speech seems to me connected to each other as it reflects how we can bring harmony and peace within diversity.” Then the president of the panel Dr. Anjan Kumar Chicham closed the seminar by thanking the keynote speaker, the panel discussers, the participants, the host and the organizer.

Interfaith Harmony Journey, 2019
As part of monthly Interfaith Dialogue Session with different religion’s students Shanti Mitra hosted 2 days long Interfaith Harmony Journey on 3rd and 4th December, 2019 in different religion’s places located in Mymensingh Sadar. Around 25 inquisitive participants including Shanti Mitra’s executive director, Subarna Poli Drong, Staffs, the dialogue facilitators and Br. Guillaume from Taize House participated in the journey.The participants began the journey by visiting Holly Family Convent, Vatikashor. Two sisters welcomed the visitors warmly and spoke about their dedicated life of sisterhood. They said ‘human fraternity can be founded by service of mankind’. Along with they called all for working for peace. Before leaving the place couple of plants were handed over to the sisters by the Shanti Mitra director as token of peace.

Planting tree at Cathedral Church, Mymensingh as symbol of Peace during the Interfaith Harmony Journey, 2019
After visiting Holly Family Convent the group moved to St. Patrick Cathedral Vatikashor and met Fr. Robert Mankhin, Vicar General of the cathedral. At the very beginning during introduction the participants came to know that Fr. Robert is a freedom fighter who appeared as a frontline fighter during the liberation war of Bangladesh in 1971. He said to the participants on harmony and peace building that all the religions say about peace so we should follow the path of peace and serving to mankind is the best way to find peace. As part of the event the group planted some trees in the cathedral compound for peace building and left for the third place.
The group visited Kwaza Baba Dayra Sharif, Kachari as the last place in the first half of the day. They met Shah Ramjan Ali Chishti, Khadem of the sharif and he described how creator created mankind and he stated “If all the community gets opportunity to practice their own religion properly then peace will be prevailed”. In this way he invited human being for establishing human fraternity. Then a pair of plants handed over to them and the participants went for lunch from there.
In the second half of the day the group visited ISCKON temple in Charbinpara across the Brahmaputra River. They met a religious leader there and he provided some information on ISCKON establishment and activity in Bangladesh and Mymensingh district. While talking about this he urged to practice communal harmony within diversity. After having discussion the group wondered the temple for a while and gifted trees for planting for peace. After getting out from the temple the group had coffee by sitting riverside café meanwhile shared reflection came up by the all participants. The first day journey ended with boat riding and singing song by all ‘Come with me for the journey is long….’

Singing song during the Interfaith Harmony journey 2019
Interfaith Journey Day second started by visiting Ramkrishna Mission on 4th December in the morning. The group met a Maharaj of the mission and his name Vaktipod Pradhan. In his speech how can people live with harmony had been discussed in dynamic ways. He thinks that when we make a garden we plant various kinds of flower plants and different flowers spread beauty together and in the same way creator has created us in different cast and creed and when we live together with harmony then god becomes happy to see this. The discussion grew up with question and answer and having finished this all the participants served the mission by cleaning it is field compound.Then the group took some photos with the Maharaj and presented plants to him as peace memorandum. After visiting the mission the group went for lunch.

At Rama krishna Mission, during interfaith Harmony journey 2019
In the second half of second day of journey the visitors were heading to SDA church in Balurghat. They got warm reception after arriving there. The host brought the group to their church and had been introduced to each other. Following this they showed a documentary on ‘History of Creation’ according to their belief. A brief discussion on ‘Human Fraternity’ was being discussed by the religious leader along with all participants. He invited all to work for peace building in the world by showing respect to all religions. In the end the group took some photographs and tree plants were given to the religious leader for planting.

Group picture has taken after sharing session at SDA Church, Mymensingh
The group visited Chishti-Us-Saberi Darbar Sharif, Stadium Gate lastly. One of the follower of Darbar was received the group and brought them in the Darbar Sharif. They met the Khadem and another followers sitting there with him. The group gathered and sat in front of themhaving discussed ‘Human Fraternity’. The follower beside khadem was seemed deliberate in sharing but the khadem was relatively short and precise on his speech. He Said “Every religion speaks of peace and meditation and spiritual life leading may brought us to creator’s favor”. Within a short time before dusk the group got back from there. That Darbar Sharif has brought ending the 2 day long journey. After returning back from there, the group had coffee and snacks together along with a brief sharing of the day.
Sharing Session:
On 5th December, 2019 Shanti Mitra Somaj Kolyan Songstha organized Reflection, Sharing and planning session following Interfaith Peace Seminar and Interfaith Harmony Journey. Dr. Anjan Kumar Chicham, The executive director of Protibondhi Community Center was the president and Subarna Poli Drong, The executive director of Shanti Mitra was directed the session. The other guests were Dr. Bimal Kanti Dey, Voktipod Prodhan, Merwyn De Melo and Masud Rana. The participants shared their experience in the seminar and journey and their practice of peace activities in own lives. Bijon Chiran who has been a facilator of Interfaith Dialogue stated “I liked interfaith journey this year very much. I have achieved new experience of harmony building in the journey. Tree memorandum and service works are the best among them for me”. He thinks the journey was literally participatory. Another participant Al Mamun Sarker expressed his thought, ‘once I thought only my religion is the best and I used to underrate the other’s religion but after participating in interfaith harmony journey it has come to my mind that all the religions pray to the same god in different ways. So no religion should be underrated”. The session went on spontaneous reflection of the participants; the discussion and interaction were obvious there. Following this Shikha Rani Das, A regular member of interfaith dialogue session who also participated in the journey said, “After attending the journey I think no religion should be underrated. Humanity is the best religion and we should develop sacrificing mind for harmony and peace building.” After having participant’s reflection sharing, the guests shared their feelings and put some comments on how the initiative could be more effective and extended. Dr. Bimal Kanti thinks that the participants have to aim to bring another three persons by each participant in coming up year into action and thus the activity would have extended. In the end the president put a closing note by discussing the importance of the initiative and thanked to organizer and to all for kind collaboration.

Sharing session on Interfaith Harmony Journey 2019

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