Tuesday, 08 October 2019 13:41

Sharing Experiences; Creating Bonds

An exposure visit for the Vavuniya and Akurana Local Inter Religious Committees (LIRCs) was conducted under NPC’s project Collective Engagement for Religious Freedom (CERF) with the support of Sarvodaya and the Rural Development Foundation Vavuniya.

Members of the Vavuniya LIRC went to Akurana, where both groups were made aware of the need for initiating interfaith cohesion activities to reinvigorate the reconciliation process following the rift created after the Easter Sunday attacks.

An entertainment session was conducted to welcome the participants, which included a Kandyan traditional dance routine. During the opening session, participants were given the opportunity to express their thoughts on the LIRC initiative. Many believed that it was a fruitful effort in the right direction and that the committees’ activities must continue.

The second day started with an experience sharing session where the participants were given an opportunity to get to know each other. They were able identify, appreciate, learn and comment on LIRC activities, community interventions, challenges and successes and broaden their understanding on propelling the discourse on religious freedom through community level collective interventions.

Evening activities included a visit to St. Paul’s church and the Temple of the Tooth where briefings were provided on the religious and cultural significance of the sites. Participants visited the Asna Mosque where they witnessed Friday prayers and listened to the Chief Moulvi’s talk where he highlighted the importance of coexistence, drawing examples from the Quran.

The final session was conducted at the mosque conference hall with the participation of Muslim, Hindu and Catholic religious leaders, who addressed the gathering and praised the committees for their enthusiasm for creating coexistence among religious communities. They emphasised the importance of initiating and broadening the reach of the initiatives.

During a discussion conducted to obtain feedback from the participants on the success of the event, two thirds said that the visit was highly successful while the rest stated that it was successful. Participants commended NPC and the CERF project for their efforts in promoting and protecting religious freedom.