Hsi Lai Temple hosted its annual Prayer for World Peace Ceremony on YouTube the first day of the New Year to welcome 2021 and offer a shared message of peace and hope to the world. Religious and community leaders joined virtually to extend their sincerest wishes to everyone for a better year after the COVID 19 pandemic devastated, and continues to devastate, the world. The temple has been holding this interfaith event at the beginning of every year for the past 26 years for people from all walks of life to pray together to achieve a common goal: Peace. Now, more than ever, people pine for peace: peace of mind, peace of body, and peace among all nations and beings. It is for this reason that the Prayer for World Peace Ceremony is so pivotal to kickstarting the New Year with an auspicious beginning.
Venerable Abbot Hui Dong was the first to offer his well-wishes during the event, highlighting how we could achieve peace despite the many challenges the world faces, “as long as we let go of prejudice and hate…cultivate peace, tolerance, and compassion in the mind”. His sentiments were mirrored in large part by the other speakers, including political and community officials, and religious leaders from the Catholic, Theravada Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, and Hindu faiths. The religious leaders took time to introduce the audience to the institution they represent by sharing a little bit about their history, iconography, mission, and special prayers.
Learning about other faiths fosters tolerance amongst people and teaches everyone that we are more alike in our core values than we are different. Spreading goodness and peace is the objective of every faith, and we can only succeed if we work together with our brothers and sisters from different religious traditions. Understanding each other is only the first step toward progress, but to fulfill the mission of peace, every person, regardless of their religion, must pray and cooperate with one another. The Prayer for World Peace Ceremony demonstrates the interconnectedness of all beings, showing us how we must work and pray together as a world community in order to benefit all.
The prayers were inspiring and helped to generate good merits and positivity; however, the music and song performances by the Buddha’s Light Youth Symphony Orchestra (BLYSO), the Buddha’s Light Hsi Lai School, and the Dharma School for Kids brought forth a deep sense of hope from the youth. The kids exhibited their talents in order to promote peace, reminding us how important spiritual cultivation is from a young age. As future leaders, they radiate a special sense of hope for attaining peace and prosperity in the world.
The Prayer for World Peace Ceremony, held online on New Year’s Day 2021, will be one to remember for many years to come. It was a unique event that brought people together to overlook differences and embrace the common good. It was a day to remind people that we are still recovering from the previous years’ issues, but we are making strides going forward. It was a day to give people hope that peace can be achieved in 202 and beyond, because our prayers are stronger together, and because our youth hold the promise of a better tomorrow.
2021 Prayer for World Peace