Yuka Saionji, Deputy Chairperson of Byakko Shinko Kai
Thank you very much for attending the sixth annual Symphony of Peace Prayers. I would first like to express my deepest gratitude and respect to all the religious leaders who have offered beautiful peace prayers, to the honored guests, members, and supporters joining in this event today.
The Symphony of Peace Prayers started in 2005, and since then, it has grown rapidly, through the support of many people around the world. The first SOPP was held in Japan, with 10,000 people gathering together at Mount Fuji to pray the prayers of different religions. And now, after six years, we have a total of over 1.1 million people who have offered their prayers and meditation on the same day. This is something we never could have imagined.
Over the past decades, people have kept offering their prayers for the world at Fuji Sanctuary, without being seen or known by others. From that, somehow, we have grown, and this year, we have events happening across the world in over 50 countries. More than 47,000 people signed up to offer their prayers and meditation to the world on this day, to create a vibration of peace around the world together. And for that, we are truly grateful.
No one, none of us, could have ever imagined that through the silent prayers we have been praying over decades on this land, we could reach out and connect with so many like-minded, peaceful souls throughout the world, coming together in harmony. But it has happened—our pure intentions and true passion for peace have brought together others around the world, and just like the name says, it is creating a beautiful Symphony of Peace Prayers.
I have heard that the word ‘religion’ originally comes from a Latin word meaning ‘to reconnect,’ which is the love connection between man and God. But unfortunately, when we look at the world today, many have lost that connection with God, and with others well. But the people gathered here today have that connection. And although our religions, backgrounds, and countries may differ, the pure mind of peace and the high intentions of love have connected us all together. And you have shown me that the key to this connection is the pure, deep prayer that we offer together, and this is only made possible inside each one of our hearts, and nowhere else. I truly hope that the love, peace, and hope for the future in our hearts and in our prayers will always resonate out to the world.
In closing, I would like to express my deepest gratitude once again to everyone who has made this event possible, to our members for their unconditional support, to our staff who work so hard to make anything possible, to our volunteers for their pure dedication, and to all of the people who have come here to join today. With your deep prayers, this sacred space is created, and with your presence and dedication, make this event possible. On behalf of Byakko Shinko Kai, I would like to give my deepest gratitude to each and every one of you here today. Thank you very much. May peace prevail on Earth.
In a rousing finale, participants were treated to another majestic scene of global harmony, as the national flag bearers returned to the Prayer Field, making their way down from the stage and parading forward in pairs as they spread out into the field. They turned to face the stage as the last flags in the procession were waved and carried down to meet the others. Finally, the Earth Flag emerged and was brought to center stage, held proudly and waved with grace and dignity. As the exhilarating choral music reached its final notes, all flags were lifted high in the air, and to the applause of many thousands of participants and guests, the ceremony was brought to a close.