The Sant Nirankari Mission Festival was just the place for a celebration of the International Day of Tolerance, a day that serves to remind us of the need to respect and appreciate the vast diversity of the world’s cultures and forms of expression.
Over half a million people attended the observance at the Mission, known as the Universal Brotherhood Mission, an all-embracing spiritual movement dedicated to human welfare. The Mission has over 100 branches outside India, including in the United Kingdom and North America. Its world headquarters is located in Sant Nirankari Colony, New Delhi, and its leader, Baba Hardev Singh, provides spiritual guidance to Nirankari devotees.
UNIC Director Kiran Mehra-Kerpelman, along with Padmashri S.P. Varma, Chairperson of the Gandhi Global Family (GGF), attended the Sant Nirankari Samagam, a three-day festival of harmony and one-ness, where they handed over the Mahatma Gandhi Award, presented to GGF to the Sant Nirankari Mission for its exemplary social and humanitarian work.
The Gandhi Global Family is a renowned NGO working for the betterment of humanity according to the principles of Mahatma Gandhi.
The wide range of socio-spiritual activities carried out by the Mission led to the grant of special Consultative Status to it by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The Mission has been working proactively towards assisting in the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Delegates have participated in several UN summits and conferences on a number of issues. The Mission also celebrates international days and observances and undertakes a range of philanthropic activities, including blood donation drives – over one million blood units have been collected over the past two decades.
The Director of UNIC New Delhi quoted from the message of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for the International Day of Tolerance: “I call on all people and governments to actively combat fear, hatred and extremism with dialogue, understanding and mutual respect. Let us advance against the forces of division and unite for our shared future”. She also quoted Mahatma Gandhi who had said that tolerance does not mean indifference towards one’s own faith, but a more intelligent and pure love for it.
She lauded the Mission for their massive outreach effort, for talking about things “that are so important in India and in the world today”.
“Talking about peace, about service, about harmony in one-ness – this is what we all need to remove intolerance from the world once and for all,” she added. In addition to the half a million people present at the observance, a larger audience watched the live webcast of the event, coming together in a sincere and joyous commemoration of the three pillars of the UN – peace, sustainable development and human rights.