On 28 January, the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Hong Kong hosted their annual interfaith event of World Religion Day, which has been celebrated since 1950. The purpose is to highlight the potential of religions to unite humanity, rather than divide it, and the notion that the spiritual principles underlying the world’s faith traditions are fundamentally harmonious. The event celebrated the role of young people with the theme: “Youth as Light of the World: Fostering Spiritual and Community Well-being.”
This year’s World Religion Day was held at Citic Tower in the business district of Central, with EY wavespace providing the venue. The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Hong Kong have always played a prominent role in connecting different religious communities in the city in a spirit of interfaith friendship and mutual understanding. Dr. David A. Palmer, professor at The University of Hong Kong’s (HKU) Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences and Department of Sociology and Office of Community Relations for the Baha’is, served as the MC. Guests and friends of diverse backgrounds came together to mingle and exchange ideas and experiences in sessions of dialogue, prayers, devotions, performances, and small group discussions.
As is the case with each World Religion Day in Hong Kong and around the world, the Baha’is brought together different songs, prayers, and performances to uplift and inspire the audience and participants. Dr. Palmer moderated a series of speakers from the Islamic, Sikh, Christian, and other faith traditions, all of whom gave speeches about the role they saw for youth in their communities and in the world as a whole. Students from several Hong Kong universities made up a large portion of the attendees. Then the room split into various groups to discuss among themselves guided questions, such as how young people might harness their faith tradition to help them find their life calling. Many groups came to the conclusion that was summed up by the notion that, youth are simultaneously uniquely vulnerable, yet also more empowered, knowledgeable, and values-driven than ever, young people represent the future of the entire planet and humanity.
The Buddhist speaker chosen for this year’s occasion was Stream of the Hong Kong University Students’ Union’s Buddhist Studies Society. He gave a presentation on how he began taking Buddhism seriously during his studies, and how the Buddhist teachings of non-attachment, wisdom, and compassion can benefit youth. The Buddhist Studies Society seeks to demystify the practice and philosophy of the Dharma for busy and stressed university students. It has the threefold purpose of: understanding and promoting Buddhism among classmates, sharing the compassion, wisdom, and peace of the Buddha with students, and improving students’ understanding and interest in the Dharma.
The event closed with a Vajrayana Buddhist mantra, a Catholic prayer, and finally, a Baha’i devotional song. The hope of the Baha’i community, which sees all faiths as possessing an underlying unity, is for youth to make “decisive contributions to the advancement of spiritual and material civilization.” (The Baha’i Faith)
Related blog posts from BDG