Prayers for Peace in Each Country
The prayer field at Fuji Sanctuary, which is at all times encircled by tall flagpoles bearing the flag of each world nation, became twice as colorful, as flag bearers holding aloft their own set of world flags arranged themselves at the back of the field along this ring of flagpoles. They carried the flags of 193 nations and the Earth flag (representing all other regions of the world). “Our prayers,” the M.C. remarked, “using the languages spoken in each country, can deeply permeate the hearts of the people of that land. A country’s flag is a sacred symbol which represents the nation’s founding ideals and the spirit of its people.”
As the ceremonial orchestral music swelled in intensity, the flag bearers made their way down the aisles and toward the stage. Even in the rain, participants showed with their applause how moved they were to see the array of flags being displayed in this show of global harmony and mutual respect. The flag bearers then proceeded back behind the stage to prepare for the ceremony of Prayers for Peace in Each Country, the SOPP’s second core program.
Byakko Vice Chairperson Rika Saionji introduced the ceremony with the following message:
Rika Saionji, Vice Chairperson of Byakko Shinko Kai
Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming. Now, I would like to offer prayers for world peace together with you. But before that, allow me to say a few words about the prayers for peace that Byakko Shinko Kai has been praying up to now.
Today, we will pray a short prayer for each country. But when we first held this ceremony more than 40 years ago, the prayers were much longer, and we spent more time praying for each country. For example, when the flag of Afghanistan, the first country, was presented, people would pray, ‘On behalf of the Afghan people, I pray for their happiness. May peace prevail in Afghanistan. May Afghanistan complete its divine mission.’ We would say this for each and every country, and the whole ceremony took hours.
We are able to gather here today, with different religious beliefs, and offer our prayers to the world because of the prayers offered by our predecessors, which still resonate today. I am deeply grateful for the divine work they accomplished.
Every month, we offer prayers for world peace here at Fuji Sanctuary, and it also gives me great pleasure to know that we have many prayer colleagues in all different parts of the world who are gathering regularly in diverse forms and connecting with each other through their prayers.
Now, despite the rain, I hope you will join with me in offering heartfelt prayers for the peace of the world. Thank you very much.
With the flag bearers lined up on either side of the stage and Rika, Yuka, and Maki Saionji standing at the back, the ceremony began with the sound of a bell and participants praying the universal prayer May peace prevail on Earth. Then, each country’s name was announced as its flag was presented at center stage, and the M.C. spoke the word for ‘peace’ in that country’s national language(s), followed by all participants praying in unison. The flags were presented in succession as the ceremony continued through 193 nations, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. The participants had each been given a flag card upon arriving, and they held up their card when the country’s name was called.
Lastly, the Earth flag was presented, and participants prayed ‘peace’ for all the other regions of the world. The announcer noted that these regions included North Korea, Taiwan, Palestine, and Tibet. Then, with only the Earth flag remaining on stage, participants prayed May peace prevail on Earth three times. Participants took in the meditative silence as the Earth flag waved gently in the breeze, and the bell sounded once more to close the ceremony.