August 6th marks the 62nd Anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. World-over, this day is dedicated to revisiting the message of Peace. In Coimbatore, India, for nearly 15 years this day is commemorated by organizing the Coimbatore Peace Festival.
The Coimbatore Peace Festival was organized by Shanti Ashram and Young Indians (YI), on Saturday the 4th August 2007, at Nani Kalai Arangam. The aim of this initiative was to bring together the children and youth and to explore the many dimensions of peace-building. Over 500 children from 50 Coimbatore schools and 50 youth leaders from different youth organizations of the greater Coimbatore participated in this program.
Inter-faith ethics education workshops were conducted under the auspieces of GNRC South Asia and the Interfaith Counil on Ethics Education for Children on the theme, Youth as agents for non-violent change, for 125 children. A team of 5 resource persons organized the workshop which included child-friendly methodologies like audio-visual presentations, peace games, group discussions, story-telling, performing arts, quiz competitions & creative writing. This was a concrete follow up of last year’s ethics education workshop for over 60 children from South Asia hosted by the Shanti Ashram to test the material that the Interfaith Council is developing to promote peacebuilding and non-violence through ethcis education and interfaith learning.
This public event was organized this year, in the evening of Saturday the 4th August 2007, at Nani Kalai Arangam, Mani Higher Secondary School, Coimbatore. The program started at 6.00 p.m. with a children-led inter-faith prayer, followed by the screening of a film titled ‘A Mother’s Prayer’., which brought back painful reminders of what happened in Hiroshima 62 years ago, and where over three lakh people lost their lives.
A Presentation of 15 constructive projects by different schools and colleges of Coimbatore aimed towards peace building, environmental restoration, educational assistance for vulnerable children; interfaith cooperation was presented to the 600 strong audience.
Dr. Neeraj Mittal, the District Collector, Coimbatore, congratulated the children and young people on their sharing community responsibility. He called upon the children to look at rights and responsibilities as two sides of a coin. He said Hiroshima is a reminder that violence can affect society very deeply and in many ways. He shared with the children Gandhiji’s concept of Trusteeship, where people are considered trustees of the world’s resources and hence this status demands all of us to be more responsible citizens. He said that it is a matter of honour for Coimbatore to have so many young people commited and active in community development work.
Mrs. Minoti Aram, President, Shanti Ashram, presided over the function and requested the children to take time for their holistic education. She said by engaging in peace building activities, children themselves grow richer in experience and knowledge. She further appreciated the coming together of urban and rural children in this very successful annual event.
Dr. Pramod Kumar, Faculty, Cultural Education, Amrita University, recalled the great contribution of Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi for the development of a peaceful and harmonious India. He said both these leaders placed great confidence, trust and hope in the capacity of young people to do good to the society. This festival is a glimpse of that hope.
Shri. Shankar Vanavarayar, Chairman, YI & Shri. Roberto Catalano of the Focolare Movement also facilitated the participants.
The meeting was followed by a colourful cultural presentation by over 100 children of different schools of Coimbatore. Earlier Dr. Kezevino Aram welcomed the gathering and Shri P. Parthiban proposed a vote of thanks.