10th March 2018, Petaling Jaya, Malaysia - Center For Spiritual Advancement (CSA) of the Pure Life Society organized Spiritual Musical Night 2018, after the success of its predecessor event in 2016. This year’s theme “Unity in Diversity” brought seven multi-faith groups together to showcase love, compassion and service to all, which represent the core values of each faith.
The program started with an opening gambit by The Temple of Fine Arts, followed by various cultural performances which were supported by the National Department for Culture and Arts. The program was then followed by various musical and dance performances by the different faith groups; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), Haqqani Foundation Malaysia (Islam), Jo'oh Seri Panggung, Sungei Judah, Orang Asli Kaum Mah Meri (Indigenous), Soka Gakkai Malaysia (Buddhism), Persatuan Brahma Kumaris Malaysia (Hinduism) and SGGS Gurmat Sangeet Academy (Sikh). The program was then further complimented by other organizations for peace, such as Initiatives of Change and the Alumni of Pure Life Society.
In a country where the official religion is Islam and numerous other religions are practiced freely, it is important for us to bring together people of different beliefs to promote understanding and learning to respect the essence of other spiritual traditions. Even though interfaith activities and dialogues are frequently held here, sadly the participation of the general population remains quite low at the moment.
The program, however, did not come about without its challenges. “The greatest challenge is always in securing funds for such a large event open to the public for free. Even though the PLS and generous sponsors helped tremendously, funding is a critical issue which will determine the future success of similar events to promote interfaith harmony. The experience of organising the program for the second time also helped us to avoid pitfalls,” as quoted from Mr Harbinder Singh.
It has been a common knowledge that funding has been a great issue for non-governmental organizations especially. However, despite the challenge, the committees went out and secured a sum of funding to make this event a success. Being part of the meeting, I was astonished by their strong sense of purpose to make this event happen. Merely three weeks before the event, there were still concerns about the funding, however it was eventually managed by the team of committees.
The program was able to garner a total of 1000 audiences from various religious groups. Although the short program had its run, I firmly believe that the participants had an opportunity to engage with people of different faiths. Perhaps not in-depth dialogue, but it was a start of an interfaith conversation between the youths especially.
One of the greatest perks during this program is the ability to get people of various faiths together to organize such a grand event. “I am pleased to say that we had a very smooth sail with the SMN program. Usually a big challenge is in getting dedicated volunteers. We were very very fortunate to have the total support of all working committee members and participating organisations. Once the objectives and framework of the event were decided, everyone took on their respective roles wholeheartedly. In short, Excellent teamwork = Success," was shared by Mr Harbinder Singh.
As a fellow member of the URI Multiregion, I am able to share the things we did here in Malaysia, in the hope that we could be one of the pioneer for interfaith spiritual performances. To end, I would like to humbly quote a passage from the gosho from Nichiren Daishonin Buddhism – “Even a feeble person will not stumble if those supporting him are strong, but a person of considerable strength, when alone, may lose his footing on an uneven path...”. Never give up on your interfaith activities despite any challenges you may face. There are those who are still with you. Unity in Diversity - together we make it happen.
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