Interfaith seminar:

Seen at the Interfaith seminar (l-r) are: Gunvant Mehta, Ila Mehta, Jasvant Modi, Savitaben Mehta, Hasendra Shah​, B.U. Patel, Ukabhai Solanki, Master Thay Hang Truong, Nitin Shah, Dr. Manibhai, Swami Ishwarananda, Father Christian Mondor, Mark Currie, Rabbi Frank Stern, Maneck Bhujwala, Mayor Ali Sajjad Taj, Muzammil H. Siddiqi, Harvinder Sahota, Jayesh Shah, Anwar Mohammed Khan, Mohammed Zafarullah, and Virendra Shah. (Surendra Prakash photo)

BUENA PARK, Calif. — In commemoration of the birth of Mahatma Gandhi, the global messenger of peace, the Jain Center of Southern California, Anekant Community Center and Indian American Senior Heritage Oct. 1 presented a seminar on “Interfaith Expression on Peace and Nonviolence” at the Buena Park Jain Center.

The event was recognized by Artesia, Calif., Mayor Ali Sjjad Taj and attended by the spiritual leaders of various faith-based organizations and members of the community. The goal of the seminar was to bring the essence of all religions to highlight Gandhi’s message of truth and peace, and foster a culture of nonviolence in this conflict ridden modern world.

Jayesh Shah welcomed the various dignitaries who then gathered on stage for prayers. After a brief prayer song, the inaugural lighting of the lamps commenced with each of the dignitaries lighting the brass lamp.

Keynote speaker Satinder Dhiman, associate dean and professor at Woodbury University, gave an interesting power point presentation highlighting the various quotes of famous personalities extolling Gandhi’s life and message.

According to Gandhi’s grandson Rajmohan Gandhi, “Despite more than 400 biographies and 100 volumes of his collected works, Gandhi still continues to be an enigma.” Biographer Louis Fisher called him the greatest human being of the last 1,900 years. Scientist Albert Einstein said “Generations to come will scarcely believe that such a human being ever walked on the earth.”

In his address, Swami Ishwarananda of Chinmaya Mission Los Angeles said there should be no violence in mind, action and speech. If you have words of peace, the world will speak to you in peace. He closed by saying, “Let’s begin our practice at home, by treating each other with respect and maintaining peace and tranquility and being the messengers of peace and love to the outside world.”

Representing Christianity, Father Christian Mondor, senior Catholic priest of the Franciscan Order, spoke about St.Francis of Assisi and his message of peace and nonviolence during the violent era of crusades.

“Gandhi was a man of peace in turbulent times just as Francis of Assisi was during the crusades.”

Hasendra Shah, a Jain scholar, gave a brief synopsis of the three Jain principles of right belief, right knowledge and right conduct, and the vows that Jains take which Gandhi adopted and lived as a life of self-reflection.

Rabbi Frank Stern, president of the Orange County Interfaith Network, said there are many similarities and some differences between Gandhi’s ideology and Judaist teachings.

Muzammil Siddiqui, director of the Islamic Society of Orange County, spoke about Islam being a religion of peace.

Maneck Bhujwala spoke about the Zoroastrian religion and Prophet Zarathustra’s message righteousness living with good thoughts and deeds.

Mark Currie of the Huntington Beach Bahai Assembly, stated that many of Gandhi’s words are echoed in the Bahai teachings and said your beliefs become your thoughts, thoughts become words, words become actions, actions become values, values become destiny and thus your future depends on how you live today.

Earlier in the day, Dr. Harvinder Sahota, Indian American cardiologist and inventor of the Perfusion Balloon Angioplasty, talked about Sikkhism and peace and released his biography, “Straight from the Heart,” written by Sayantan Chakravarthy.

The event wrapped up with a vote of thanks by Dr. Nitin Shah and a unity song “Jyot se Jyot Jalate Chalo Prem Ki Ganga bahate Chalo” by Jalpa Buch.

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