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Nepal Friendship Society promotes Unity and Inclusion During World Interfaith Harmony Week

In Nepal, World Interfaith Harmony Week coincided with Vasant Panchami, a holiday marking the beginning of Spring. Nepal Friendship Society ushered in the new season with Saraswati Puja, a festival in honor of the eponymous goddess. Amongst other things, she is the patron of learning, wisdom, and knowledge, and the holiday brings people of all castes and creeds together to celebrate this. It is believed that this is the best day to start learning new things, so what better way to commence World Interfaith Harmony Week? After the festivities came to an end, the compassion games began in earnest and the NFS trainers traveled around the Chitwan district of Nepal, having Interfaith Harmony sessions with various school and community groups. They were joined intermittently throughout the week by a very special guest: Christina, a Play for Peace volunteer, came all the way from the Netherlands to help facilitate games that promoted unity and inclusion. In one community group, they had a conversation about faith and harmony. After the children discussed their perspectives, they could agree upon various tenets of interfaith harmony such as goodwill, mutual appreciation, peace, and responsibility. One participant, Alisa, got to the heart of the matter, declaring that “our differences are our strength.” As the week progressed, the NFS team also made a point of promoting environmentally friendly activities in recognition of our collective responsibility to protect and restore the earth. At one school, they initiated an environmental cleanup, and the students welcomed the task. Amongst them, Manish was the most vocal, stressing the importance of respecting and caring for Mother Earth, our sacred provider of life. Though not immediately evident, peace is an important aspect of environmental stewardship: environmental degradation often gives rise to conflict and, conversely, war often leads to rampant ecological destruction. As such, the NFS team broached this topic with a group of third graders. While exploring the theme, sub-secretary at NFS, explained to that, “Peace involves respecting and loving those who are different from us.” The students were also introduced to the idea of ‘sustainable peace.’ As per the UN Security Council’s resolution on the matter, sustainable peace is an ongoing process through which the root causes of conflict are addressed, and the needs of all facets of society are taken into consideration. We can only sustain international amity by promoting inclusion and non-violence at every level: from individual to household; from community to national. Or, put more succinctly by Birendra: “peace in, peace out.” [gallery size="medium" ids="8754,8748,8749,8750,8751,8752,8753"]