2013 Fuji SOPP
The ninth annual Symphony of Peace Prayers (SOPP) was celebrated at Fuji Sanctuary and around the world on May 19, 2013. This global annual event, which began at Fuji Sanctuary in Shizuoka, Japan, in 2005, is an interreligious and inter-spiritual ceremony that brings together people from all faiths and backgrounds to pray with one voice for peace on earth and harmony among humanity. Each year, SOPP ceremonies and peace prayer gatherings are held worldwide on or near the same day in May, and the waves of love and light sent out from each location join together to envelop the planet in peaceful vibrations, bringing humanity one step closer to a future of mutual respect, understanding, and true, lasting peace.
This was a landmark year for the Symphony of Peace Prayers, as in February, an SOPP ceremony took place at the United Nations General Assembly Hall in New York, during the February 14 special event United for a Culture of Peace Through Interfaith Harmony, an adjunct event to World Interfaith Harmony Week. More than 1,500 people from around the world took part in the event. In the second part of the program, eleven religious representatives offered prayers for peace from their respective faiths, the first time ever that religious prayers were offered at the UN General Assembly Hall. Following this, participants joined in a World Peace Flag Ceremony to pray for peace in each country and region on earth. This history-making event sent waves of peace and harmony throughout the world, and opened up a new stage for the worldwide SOPP movement.
The 2013 SOPP at Fuji Sanctuary featured an international group of eight prayer leaders and more than 40 distinguished guests from Japan and around the world who are working in various fields. Six youth participants also joined this year’s ceremony. The prayer leaders, guests, and youth participants, along with staff members of Byakko Shinko Kai, held a post-ceremony discussion at Fuji Sanctuary on May 20, and the youth participants presented their work and experiences at the 2013 Gift Symposium, held in Tokyo on May 22.
Around the world, over 60 ceremonies and prayer gatherings were held to celebrate this year’s Symphony of Peace Prayers, and many more people lent their hearts and minds to peace on the same day through the Global Peace Meditation and Prayer Day event. Reports from many of these gatherings can be in the 2013 International Events archives.
This year, for the first time, the SOPP ceremony at Fuji Sanctuary was broadcast live over the internet, allowing people around the world to view the ceremony as it unfolded, and to pray along with the more than 6,000 participants in the Prayer Field. In addition, the Symphony of Peace Prayers global website was launched shortly before this year’s event, providing a central hub for information about the SOPP, photos and reports from past years, inspirational writings and videos, and a system for registering local gatherings, to better connect the growing SOPP network.
The sun shone down on Fuji Sanctuary on the morning of May 19, giving participants a beautiful view of Mount Fuji as they arrived at the Prayer Field. A large number of staff and volunteers welcomed the guests and more than 6,000 participants. At 10 am, the ceremony began with opening remarks from Byakko President Tomohiko Naya and Chairperson Masami Saionji.