In Celebration of World Interfaith Harmony Week
In the first week of February, 2018, UNITY EARTH, in partnership with the United Religions Initiative, the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia and the World Peace Prayer Society, invited more than 65 religious representatives of many faiths and musical artists from a wide range of nations to celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week 2018 in Lalibela, Addis Ababa and Shashamane, Ethiopia.
Natives of Aboriginal Australia, indigenous leaders from North and Central America, Buddhist monks from Thailand, Sikhs, Baha’is, Sufis and Hindus from India, Jews, Christians and Muslims comprised a colorful and diverse gathering of people standing for unity, peace and compassion.
Highlights of the 7-day U Day Festival included visiting sacred sites in Lalibela and Shashamane, joining in a Convergence of Fire torch-lighting ceremony, and taking part in a most impressive event at the African Union, featuring Dr. Mulatu Teshome, the President of Ethiopia; His Holiness Abune Mathias, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church; the leaders of the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia; and a World Peace Flag Ceremony with fifty Ethiopian children raising the flags of all the nations of the world with the prayer, “May Peace Prevail on Earth.”
The mission of the U Day gatherings, which have been held previously in Thailand in 2012, at the Church Center for the United Nations in 2016, and in Crestone, Colorado in 2017, is to bring people into joyful harmony through interfaith understanding and the common language of music. UNITY EARTH and an international team from Australia, India and the United States, brought religious, spiritual and indigenous leaders, heads of international organizations and inspirational musicians together for a powerful experience of unity through diversity in the “Land of Origins.”
U Day Visits Lalibela
The group began its World Interfaith Harmony Week experience by journeying to the historic town and UNESCO World Heritage Site at Lalibela. The cultural ambassadors, musicians and delegates were warmly welcomed by the priests in a moving ceremony. They visited the extraordinary churches carved into the stone, offering prayers from many traditions, including Judaism, Buddhism and Islam, in this special atmosphere infused with deep faith.
Convergence of Fire Ceremony
The Convergence of Fire ceremony was held during the visit to Lalibela at a multilevel restaurant situated on a hilltop over 2,500 meters high. The date of January 31 was extremely auspicious, being both a full moon and a lunar eclipse.
U Day Visits the African Union
On February 2, all participants gathered at the African Union, observing World Interfaith Harmony Week there for the very first time. This event, organized by Unity Earth in partnership with the United Religions Initiative, the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia and the World Peace Prayer Society, included President Dr. Mulatu Teshome of Ethiopia, the Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the leaders of the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia, and other local dignitaries.
U NITE Concert
The U NITE concert on 3 February continued to honor World Interfaith Harmony Week by bringing together musicians of many different national cultures and faith traditions at the Villa Verde in Addis Ababa. [See the Artists]
Simultaneously with the concert, an online global meditation led by Dr. David Nicol of the Gaiafield Network attracted hundreds of participants live across the globe. [Find out More]