Christians, Muslims and Hindus celebrate Christmas together at Lahore, Pakistan

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Christians, Muslims and Hindus celebrate Christmas together at Lahore, Pakistan
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In a world filled with religious intolerance, it was great to see Christian, Muslim and Hindu religious leaders and their followers all together under one roof in joy, peace and harmony. This was the atmosphere at the Interfaith Christmas Celebration held at Lahore, Pakistan on the 18th of December 2016. The celebration was organised by The Peace Centre and the United Religions Initiative (URI) under the direction of the Dominican Fr James Channan.

There were over 150 Christians, Muslims and Hindus in attendance. There is a long list of Sunni and Shia leaders, Catholics and Protestants and Hindus who took active part in the celebration. There were several leaders, Coordinators and members of the URI in Pakistan including Maulana Abdul Khabir Azad, Grand Imam of the Badshahi Mosque Lahore, Chaudhary Zubair Ahmed Farooq, Additional Prosecutor General of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Allama Masood Qasmi, Fr Pascal Paulus, Prior Vice Provincial of the Vice Province of Pakistan and Dr. Munawar Chand a Hindu leaders and many others. There were also students from both Christian schools and Mosque schools "Madrasa". All the speakers presented messages in the spirit of Christmas and emphasized unity and respect for one another.

There were two major highlights during the celebration: The presentation of the Candle from Bethlehem, the birth place of Jesus Christ. The Candle was brought to the Peace Center all the way from Palestine via Israel, Turkey, Austria, Germany and finally to Pakistan. This Candle was lit at the beginning of the programme and it really illuminated the hearts of all present.

The second highlight was the chanting of religious hymns by the students of the one of the Madrasa schools represented at the celebration. The Christian students also presented religious hymns. All the Muslim and Christian children present received Christmas gifts from Maulana Abdul Khadir Azad and Fr Pascal Paulus. Together they all cut the Christmas cake and shared the festive dinner.

There is a grave need to promote such dialogue of love, peace and harmony throughout Pakistan and indeed the whole world in order to promote peace and harmony and overcome the challenges of religious intolerance.

fr James Channan OP, Director, Peace Center Lahore​

 

(23 December 2016)