Two locations: Madrid, Mallorca
Madrid: report by Lola Sousa
In Buen Retiro, the largest park in Madrid, we had a magnificent ceremony, with wonderful weather and the participation of about 200 people. We created a beautiful circle of light, joining with all the other circles of light in other countries around the world, multiplying and magnifying the energy of peace co-created by our words and thoughts.
The event was greater than anything we had imagined or expected—the union of many hearts truly resonating with peace and unity in a magical moment at a magical place. This magical place was the spacious and quiet Plaza de Galicia, with its large stone cross, its central shell-shaped stage, stone benches and the trees and lush vegetation surrounding it, which gave us the shade that we needed so much. We also brought with us a ‘mobile’ wooden peace pole made specifically for the occasion by Luis, one of the co-organizers, with the message “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in four different languages.
The ceremony began at 11 am with peace dances in a circle led by José Rioja, which served to harmonize and bring us together immediately. When the dances finished, a procession of colorful flags representing each continent, along with flags of the Earth and the Universe, arrived through one of the paths overlooking the plaza, headed by a large banner reading “May Peace Prevail on Earth,” with beautiful background music by Vivaldi. With all the flags on the stage, Martha Centeno beautifully sang the Gayatri Mantra, and thus we entered into a deeper state of inner silence.
Then, I welcomed everyone, giving a brief introduction to the Symphony of Peace Prayers, and read Masami Saionji’s message. After this, twelve people from various locations in Spain and Italy came on stage and together we performed a prayer without words with deep breathing. More people joined us from below.
Then, the ceremony of flags and prayers for peace in each country began, starting with Europe, to which we dedicated a special song. For each country, we prayed, Peace in (name of country) and then spoke the word ‘peace’ in the official language(s) of that country, so that the vibration of peace could reach deeply into the hearts of all people. José Rioja conducted the ceremony, presenting the different sections, and leading us in the songs.
The same pattern was repeated for each continent: a prayer from a certain spiritual tradition, then a song for the continent, followed by the presentation of the national flags of that continent. From the Brahma Kumaris tradition, Luzila reminded us in her message that there is something that we can do for peace, and that peace is within us. Daniel, from the Orthodox Church, read a message sent by Prof. Theophilus Moldova, the parish priest of the community of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Madrid. From Catholicism, Lili offered the Peace Prayer of St. Francis (San Francesco). Mohamed El Sayed, representing Sufism, said, in Arabic and Spanish, that his only religion was love, to which everyone applauded.
When we had completed the program for all the continents, three people each read something they had written on the subject of peace. Then, the Earth Flag was carried around the stage while the music by Vivaldi played again. The flag stopped at the center where, all together, we repeated three times: May peace prevail on Earth and four times: Peace prevails on Earth!
For the finale, Mohamed El Sayed, an Egyptian dancer living in Madrid, offered us, with great love and devotion, a beautiful Sufi dance. He spun round and round, reaching toward the cosmos with a message of peace and love. Then we had a short theatrical performance: Marisa Tejada, dressed as an elf from the forest, delighted us with her beautiful messages for human beings. She made us laugh, taught us how to share our heart and to flow with life, and she brought us much joy.
Some of us shared a picnic lunch in the park, and then the program continued during the afternoon, with a Tai Chi demonstration and workshop by Sanuk group, dances of peace with Maite Pardo, Acroyoga with Acroyoga-Madrid, and Creative Meditation led by William Van Marseneille, a Raja Yoga teacher and follower of the ‘Trans-Himalayan Wisdom.’ The day’s program ended just after 7 pm, with lots of hugs and warm goodbyes.
Everyone said they were delighted with the ceremony, and newcomers especially commented on how much they liked it. Many people from different groups and spiritual paths were discovering us for the first time, and wanted to keep in touch with us to work together on future projects. So, infinite expansion!
I would like to give special thanks to all those who helped make this ceremony possible, to those who came from other countries and other parts of Spain to participate, and of course to the representatives of the different spiritual traditions, the artists and the participants of health & welfare groups, for trusting us, for wanting to be there and collaborate enthusiastically with us. Thanks also to the City of Madrid for giving us permission to use this wonderful place, and to all the participants, because, without them, this event would not have been possible.
Mallorca: report by Marta Nogareda Moreno
Our SOPP ceremony in Palma de Mallorca was held in the forest surrounding the magnificent Bellver Castle. The castle’s forest has a special flat area—a natural esplanade—free from trees and naturally circular. It was perfect for gathering in a circle, in an open space, in the middle of nature, where we could recognize and honour every single element of Mother Earth and the universe.
While I have organized our gatherings here since 2008, I always receive help from different individuals and groups. This year, I received great motivation and help from my friend Pilar Mañosa, who has been involved in the SOPP since 2007, the first year that it became an international event. This year, she was in charge of making the sacred mandala of flags. I felt that the whole world would benefit from her loving and energized hands. Other friends also joined in the organisation of the SOPP. They sang and read to honour the different continents, and helped to prepare a beautiful altar at the center of the flag mandala.
We began with an opening song: Carmen Pérez put music to a text called To live now, written by Jorge Carvajal, a famous Colombian doctor. Then, as they have every year, the Brahma Kumaris presented a short text. This year, it was read (in Spanish) by a German woman, Brigitte Schwingen, who also led us through a simple but deep meditation, surrounded by the songs of birds.
Lola García, who is from Andalusia, sang a song of a famous Majorcan woman. Although her mother tongue is Spanish, she sang in Catalan to honour the language used by the local people of Mallorca. My father, Manuel Nogareda Bértoa, originally from Galicia, read a poem in Galician—a message that praises nature and our invisible link with it. Then, he read a translation in Spanish. After this, Eva Harprasad Kaur led us in repeating the mantra ‘Ma.’ According to the Kundalini yoga tradition, this sound evokes the primary call to the mother, so it gave us the chance to open our hearts. Then, Regina Grafe sang the song “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” in English, Catalan and Spanish.
Next, three members of the Mallorca Council of the World Brotherhood Union gave a reading from The Knowledge Book. It was the first time they held an open reading here. Finally, to close the first part of the ceremony, Sister Carmen Agustín led us in ‘performing’ the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi, using sign language. It was a splendorous experience; the signs were like mudras—pure simplicity and pure heart. Sister Carmen made us laugh, play and deeply feel the importance of working for others rather than focusing on ourselves.
The second part of our event, the flag ceremony, was very lively. We concentrated deeply on sending out love and peace to each nation and the whole world. We affirmed peace through each and every flag. We had selected poems and messages to be read for each continent, and these helped us to immediately feel infinite love for that piece of land before praying for its various nations.
At the end, we did a world peace dance, offering blessings to the Earth, the people in the circle, the different peoples of the planet, and also ourselves. Spontaneously, we all sent ‘words of light’ to the whole world. We left the circular esplanade with hugs, laughter and a deep feeling of having held a very important ceremony of healing and unification, within ourselves and within the heart of humanity.