Interfaith gatherings unify people, says high priest

KUALA LUMPUR: Activities, such as interfaith gatherings at different houses of worship, should be held to continue fostering unity and harmony, says Buddhist chief high priest of Malaysia, Venerable Datuk K. Sri Dhammaratana.

He advocated for society to normalise such gatherings as a concerted effort to “replant the seeds of unity among” the younger generation.

“To establish a solid foundation for our unity and harmony, it is crucial that we engage in more than just dialogue sessions and meetings.

“We should focus on organising activities that go beyond mere discussions and meals.

“I call upon all our brothers and sisters to come together once in a while, whether at mosques, neighbourhoods, churches or Hindu temples, to engage in meaningful discussions on how to strengthen our relationships for the long term.“By generating ideas that we can put into practice, we can educate the next generation and ensure a sustainable future,” he said in his speech at the Malaysia National Wesak Hi-Tea 2024 gathering at the Buddhist Maha Vihara Temple in Brickfields here yesterday.

Also present were Deputy National Unity Minister Saraswathy Kandasami and leaders and representatives from various religious groups in Malaysia.

Sri Dhammaratana said such a practice was a pivotal point in initiating change, especially with the older generation gradually fading away.

“We must make a concerted effort to replant the seeds of unity before we leave this world, ensuring that our legacy endures for future generations.

“In our pursuit of peace and harmony within our country and across the globe, we must organise well-planned activities that contribute to the development of a healthy and prosperous society.”

In a recent discussion with Archbishop Julian Leow, he said they considered visiting the Pope in Singapore during his upcoming visit to Asia to rekindle the relationship post-Covid-19.

“This underscores the importance of nurturing relationships with all individuals,” he said.

Sri Dhammaratana noted that the high tea gathering was the first grand open house event at the temple after the pandemic.

“This gathering is a gift to demonstrate our unity and cultivate a strong sense of family, not limited to the Buddhist community alone,” he added.

Meanwhile, Saraswathy called on Malaysians to “protect our cause”.

“The voice of unity in Malaysia reverberates heavily with respect and tolerance. Malaysians in general are peaceful people. We are gentle with one another. We must protect our cause.

“We Malaysians have lived together for so long in harmony, where a variety of colours, voices and human stories have come together in the epic rhythm of togetherness.

“Unity in Malaysia tears apart the curtain of misunderstanding, revealing that despite our differences, we are in an irreplaceable symphony on the stage of life,” she said.

Saraswathy said she was in Penang earlier for a temple function, followed by a visit to a Hindu temple and a mosque, before heading to Kuala Lumpur for a Buddhist temple event.

“This underscores the importance of fostering harmony and goodwill among various religious communities. These visits align with our objectives to enhance national unity and integration, guided by the principles of the Malaysian Constitution and the Rukun Negara.”

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