By Eric Olsen
Global Peace Foundation (GPF) India and Delhi-based Inheritance hosted the thirteenth Facets of Faith collaborative project for college and secondary school students (grade 10-12) to learn about the pluralistic nature of Delhi through aspects of India’s heritage, art, and culture.
The ten-day experiential program from June 10-20, 2022, explored living heritage spaces, engaged with cultural symbols and stories of Delhi, and hosted interactive sessions with faith leaders, historians, and scholars of interfaith studies.
Guided by the principle of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakamin, found in the Vedic scriptures and meaning “the world is one family,” Facets of Faith affirms that every religious tradition and culture needs to be acknowledged and respected. People of different cultures, faiths or traditions need to be seen as different family members who recognize One God or One Cause.
Participants went to different heritage sites like Jama Masjid and Feroz Shah Kotla, as well as Jain temples, gurudwaras, churches, synagogues and meditation centers. The program featured interactive team building sessions and seminars on Indian philosophy, faith and peacebuilding, Delhi history, and cultural richness of India.
Underscoring GPF’s vision of One Family Under God, the program experientially explores the equality and interdependence of every human being, examining the intangible aspects of the oneness of Indian culture through the artifacts, symbols, monuments, food, textiles, and pilgrimage places in Delhi.
“I understood my personal and communal heritage, and how different faiths preach the same message.” --participant Neda Jamal
Facets of Faith also provides practical guidance on issues of conflict, communal violence, and isolation in the minds of youth. The project combines different fields of knowledge and experience, exploring lessons through the lens of literature, environment, religion, science, social science and technology.
Peaceful coexistence is crucial in modern cosmopolitan societies. Through Facets of Faith, youth learn to take active roles as leaders using moral and ethical values enshrined in Indic religions and culture. Engaging minds in interreligious and interfaith dialogue can provide new ways of looking at religious doctrines, of interpreting philosophical ideas, of making inclusive policies and equitable nation building.
Moral and ethical leadership can be also learned from the rich traditions of Indian and world religions. Youth particularly, if educated holistically, can contribute immensely to building and sustaining peace.
“The sessions and the walks were not just informative but helped me personally to grow more and interact with so many people,” reflected on participant, Rupash Banerjee. “I made new friends, met new people, talked about so many things, and especially about faith. It gave me another vision of faith and peace.”
“ I just want to say that I lived what I studied: Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam!” added Gohar Ameer Khusro “The entire program was designed in such a holistic way that I actually could contemplate on this idea of ONE FAMILY.”
To learn more about Global Peace Foundation India’s interfaith and youth development work, visit India | Global Peace Foundation.