Ni Komang Erviani , The Jakarta Post, Contributor , Denpasar | Mon, 10/13/2008 11:36 AM | Bali
Thousands of people of different religious beliefs participated in the Gema Perdamaian (Echo of Peace) 2008 interfaith gathering at Puputan Margarana Square, Renon, on Sunday.
The annual event calls for the promotion of peace, understanding and tolerance among people of different faiths.
The main event at the gathering was a collective prayer session led by different religious figures. Among the figures were Budi S Tanu Wibowo, a Confucian; Gede Erata; a Hindu, Father Antonius Benny, a Catholic; Elga Sarapung, a Protestant; and Habib Chirzin, a Muslim.
The event kicked off in the afternoon as the participants, including children dressed in various traditional Indonesian costumes, conducted the spiritual Pada Yatra march.
Participants walked in a circle around the Bajra Sandhi monument at the southern end of the square. They held up a long sheet of white cloth above their heads as a symbol of their commitment to purity and peace.
Later on, participants sat in front of the monument while Balinese girls performed the sacred Rejang Dewa dance, which illustrates the heavenly nymphs’ joy as they welcome the deities.
Participants then listened to messages of peace from several national and international figures, including senior Indonesian Buddhist monk Sri Pannavaro Mahathera, prominent Thai social and peace activist Sulak Sivaraksa, and Nobel Peace Prize laureates Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Muhammad Yunus.
Their written messages were read out during the gathering.
“How can you sustain yourself in your darkest moment? When you do good in spite of everything, it is not just for yourself. Its repercussions will be felt in Africa, in India, in Indonesia, in Brazil, in the U.S. The good that you do has a ripple effect around the world,” Desmond Tutu’s message read.
Several singers, including Dewa Budjana and Trie Utami, sang inspirational songs during the gathering, which was also attended by Bali Governor Made Mangku Pastika and several foreign consuls.
The gathering, which was first held six years ago, was organized by a coalition of various organizations and concerned individuals. Initially, it was designed as a peaceful response to the 2002 nightclub bombings.
Sudiarta Indrajaya, head of the Gema Perdamaian 2008 organizing committee, said the event was a medium through which the needs and importance of peace and tolerance were amplified to the public.
“Basically, everybody wants peace. Hatred will not end by being answered with hatred,” he said.