REGINA — Extra chairs were required to accommodate the almost 200 people who attended the annual World Religion Day held Jan. 18 at Beth Jacob Synagogue in Regina.
“It’s getting bigger every year,” said Krishan Kapila, the first president of the Regina Multi-Faith Forum that organizes the event.
World Religion Day brings together local representatives of religions who each present a short prayer, usually asking for peace and harmony among nations. This year a few gave short speeches as well.
The Baha’i representative led off the 11 religions and asked that all nations be one. She was followed by a Buddhist monk dressed in the traditional saffron robe, who suggested everyone knows the meaning of peace but doesn’t realize it. They were followed by Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Muslim, Regina Que’Appelle Spiritual Care, Satya Sai Baba, Sikh, Unitarian and Christian traditions. Several of the eastern religions chanted in their traditional languages, followed by an English translation.Rabbi Jeremy Parnes greeted everyone with the traditional “Shalom.”
“We are gathered here to share our faith to live free and express our faith in harmony.” He referred to a tapestry hanging at the front of the gathering which he commissioned. It contains symbols of the various faith traditions and the four Hebrew letters that spell out God’s personal name.
“It is unpronounceable,” said the rabbi, “but if it were it would sound like this,” and he gave out a deep breath. “It is the breath of life.”
Rev. Mary Brubacher of the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region chaplaincy also prayed for refugees from the world’s war-torn countries and an end to poverty. There were several references to ecology, care and health of the earth. The Unitarian representative said it was inspiring to hear the words of others and called for peace for Mother Earth. The Christian representative simply recited the Prayer of St. Francis which calls for peace and forgiveness.
The service was opened with the traditional blowing of the sankh and closed with the blowing of the ram’s horn. The sankh is a symbol in Hindu and Buddhist rituals, and the rams horn is used in Jewish rituals and symbolizes the presence of God.