Westminster Interfaith: Promoting Dialogue Between People of Faith

The agency of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster for Interreligious Dialogue

Westminster Interfaith Newsletter

Issue 67 – July 2010

The London Peace Pagoda celebrates its Silver Jubilee

The London Peace Pagoda was built by monks, nuns and followers of Nipponzan Myöhöji to further humanity's quest and prayer that the world may be saved from nuclear destruction. They offered it to the people of London to celebrate the 1984 GLC Year of Peace, as a symbol of light in the darkness of the present day world, a visible prayer to awaken humanity to peace. It was inaugurated on 14th May 1985. This was also an important moment for Westminster Interfaith, because it was during the pilgrimage from Canterbury to London that Brother Daniel Faivre was inspired to start the London People of Faith for Peace and the annual multi-faith pilgrimage for peace. It is also a special anniversary for us.

The 25th Anniversary of the London Peace Pagoda took place at Battersea Park on Saturday 19th June. It began just before 2pm with a procession of monks and nuns of Nipponzan Myöhöji from the Temple to the Peace Pagoda followed by invocation, veneration, incensing and scattering of flower petals asking for the protection of the Buddha and all the deities. There was a series of prayers and chanting from the Lotus Sutra followed by chanting by the various Buddhist traditions present in London. About forty Buddhist monks and nuns took part. It was beautiful to hear the different styles of chanting some accompanied by drums and bells. Many lay people also joined in the chanting. Mr Shigeo Kobayashi, who did a wonderful job as Master of Ceremonies, invited us to join the monks and nuns in going around the Pagoda.

To end the Buddhist part of the service, Venerable Gyoten Yoshida Shonin, Head Priest of Nipponzan Myöhöji, gave a moving address. Interfaith prayers for world peace were sung or recited by representatives of all the major religions. There were messages and speeches from various dignitaries, including the Mayor of Wandsworth.

It was a very solemn and prayerful occasion, concluding with devotional music and dance performed by a variety of invited guests, many of whom were children. There was also the opportunity for refreshments and socialising. A hot drink and a snack were most welcome that day because it was really cold and windy. I was very happy to take part in such an important occasion.

Jon

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