Four events: Milan, Potenza, Ragusa, Rome
Milan: report by Sonoko Tanaka
At 4 pm on May 19, just a little ahead of the ceremony at Fuji Sanctuary, we held a beautiful prayer ceremony in Milan. The promoter of the ceremony was Laura Ricchina, a Byakko satellite member and director of one of the public libraries in Milan. She has been doing a lot of work with children and adults in her area, including people from different religions. Thanks to her efforts, we were able to hold this year’s ceremony at the Asteria Cultural and Sports Centre.
In our ceremony of prayer for peace in each country, we used a video made by two supporters, featuring an image of the planet Earth that moves to show the location of each country, along with the flag of that country and the prayer May peace be in (name of country) in that country’s language. The video was projected on a large screen, in front of which a group of grade 5 elementary school students presented the national flags, one at a time. They waved the flags beautifully and proudly, forming an infinity symbol. A team of organizers prepared the flags, so that the students would be in sync with the video. The front part of the stage was decorated with another set of smaller flags, creating a marvelous setting.
Although we decided not to invite spiritual leaders this year, more than ten of the nuns who manage the Asteria Centre (a Catholic institution) joined in our ceremony. In addition, at the beginning of the ceremony pictures and messages from the children on the theme of peace were projected on screen. Some of the messages were about peace among religions, and there were various religious symbols as well. Thus, even without the prayer leaders, our event had the atmosphere of an SOPP ceremony.
Potenza: report by Teri Volini
Our SOPP ceremony in Potenza was held on May 19, a beautiful sunny and windy day, at the United Europe Park. We began with an intercultural and interfaith circle, which included the participation of representatives from various religious and secular traditions—Catholic, Evangelist, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, and others—who led participants in offerings of peace. We also had a reading of a poem written especially for the SOPP by a supporter in Padua.
This was followed by a flag ceremony of prayer for peace in each country, where we presented and raised the flag of each member state of the United Nations, plus one flag for all other nations and regions. This part of the ceremony highlights the importance of each individual participant when they undertake the important task of carrying a flag—a symbol of the nation. When the flag of a particular nation is raised and participants pray for peace in that country, a powerful energy of peace is sent to that nation. During this ceremony, our bodies become vehicles for sending vibrations of peace and unity to all the people of the world.
Participation in the ceremony was joyful and heartfelt. The participants felt and communicated the beauty and responsibility of their act of service to humanity. The ceremony closed with a big round of applause, followed by a joyous circle, with a promise to renew the commitment to peace and unity beyond all cultural and religious differences. In the past, such differences posed an obstacle to peace and harmony, but today they can be seen as a source of enrichment in our lives.
Ragusa: report by Sasha and Renato
Once again, we gathered at the Maunacenter in Ragusa for the SOPP, in connection with all the centers of peace around the world. In an atmosphere of energy and peace, we offered our hearts and our prayers for the victims of the earthquake in Romagna, Italy, for the health of Mother Earth, and for the peace of those peoples afflicted by war and terrorist massacres. Our prayer was: Now is peace… Now is oneness… Now is light… Now is love… May my life and the earth be in harmony.
Rome: report by Maria Caterina Putignano
The Yoga Dharma Community, under the direction of Bhai Hari Singh Khalsa and Guru Inder Kaur, organized a beautiful ceremony in a park in Rome. We chose an area in the park with some trees to create a sacred space for the ceremony, and we surrounded the space with little flags of many colors, with peace prayers written on them in different languages. We recited a mantra for peace on each of the continents. The ceremony was very powerful, and everyone embodied pure love in service to humanity.