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Dec. 20, 2016

On 18 December, 16, The Archdiocese of Bombay hosted an Inter Religious Christmas Celebration at the Holy Name High School Hall, Mumbai. Dignitaries and various religious leaders joined in the Christmas celebration which commenced with the lighting of the lamp by His Excellency Cardinal Oswald Gracias, followed by the joyful singing of the Christmas carols by the Cathedral Choir.

The students of the Apostolic Carmel High School, Bandra threw light on the nativity scene through their performance: Christmas is History-Mystory.

This was followed by the Sharing by different Religious Leaders on the theme: Safeguarding Human Dignity through Inter Religious Collaboration, anchored by Fr. Joseph Gonsalves. The panel constituted of religious leaders from various faiths, namely: Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Brahmakumari and Christianity. Each of them was asked to explain in a few words, what human dignity is according to their religion.

Dr. Parvez Bajan, the Zoroastrian Priest, said that God sent a Savior because we are headed towards chaos and anarchy. Being the finest creatures created, we are endowed with the duty and responsibility to preserve nature.

The Christian priest, Fr. Frazer Mascarenhas, spoke of the essence of every religion: putting ourselves in a relationship with God. He added that humans are made in the image and likeness of God with intelligence and free will and we are called to be true to nature and to God. This is the source of human dignity.

Mufti ManzurZiyaee, the Muslim leader, emphasized on peace as the crux of human dignity. While Buddhist monk, Dr. Rahul Bodi, justified that the source of peace and happiness is the human heart. He said that we are responsible for creating peace and harmony.

Sr. Smitha of the Brahmakumari faith elucidated that we, the children of God, are merely souls playing a role in the world through bodies. She went on to say that if all faiths accepted other faiths, there will be love, mercy and compassion all over.

Swami Dharmajnananda, the Hindu priest said that the essence of every human being remains the same no matter where the person goes. The moment we strive to be the best of ourselves, we learn to embrace and accept nature and beings, hence maintaining human dignity.

And lastly, Rabbi Abraham Benjamin of the Judaism faith expressed his views on Human Dignity saying everyone and everything has the right to exist. He said that if every religious leader teaches his/ her children to respect all religions, it’ll bring down violence in the name of religion.

The discussion was followed by presenting each of the panel members with a token of love and appreciation, following which His Eminence summarized all the views and brought to the notice of the audience the similarities in the views in the deeper sense. He expressed the need to protect fiercely human dignity through love, peace, tolerance, acceptance, etc. He concluded that religious leaders cannot change the world but they can definitely influence it.

The Cathedral choir walked in again and sang in different tongues and the folk song they sang held the audience captive and join in the singing too. To conclude the programme on a thoughtful note, the students of the Convent of Jesus and Mary put up a short performance, Christmas Wishes Greetings: Show God’s Mercy by Seeing Jesus in the poor.

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