December 30, 2016, 11:43 AM
The URI Pakistan and Peace Center Lahore organized an Interfaith Christmas Celebration on the 18th of December at Peace Center in Lahore, Pakistan. Over 150 Christians, Muslims and Hindus participated. There were several leaders, coordinators, and members of URI in Pakistan, including: Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, Grand Imam of the Badshahi Mosque Lahore and former Global Trustee of URI; and Chaudhary Zubair Ahmed Farooq, Additional Prosecutor General of the Supreme Court of Pakistan and former Global Trustee of URI.
It was great to see Christian, Muslim and Hindu religious leaders and promoters of interfaith harmony under one roof. There was a good number of students from schools and Madrasa, or mosque schools.
All speakers presented messages in the light of Christmas, when Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. There is a long list of Sunni and Shia leaders, Catholics, Protestants and Hindus who took an active part in the celebration.
One of the striking parts of this celebration was that a candle which was brought from Bethlehem - the birthplace of Jesus Christ, (now) in Palestine. The candle was brought to Peace Center all the way from the Palestine via Israel, Turkey, Austria, Germany and to Pakistan. This candle was lit at the begging of the program and it really illuminated the hearts of all present in the hall.
Another important part was the presence of two Madrasa schools of religious instruction. Students from one Madrasa chanted one religious hymn. The Christian children presented their own religious hymns. All Muslim and Christians children were presented Christmas gifts by Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad and Fr Pascal Paulus OP. Christmas cake was cut, and festive dinner offered to all.
There is a grave need to promote this kind of dialogue of life throughout the country, to overcome the difficulties which we experience.
Here are some photos of this great event. All greeted Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2017 to each other, and prayed for lasting peace around the globe.
May Peace Prevail On Earth!
fr James Channan OP
URI Regional Coordinator Pakistan