Vienna, Austria—More than 200 people attended a World Interfaith Harmony Week program that culminated with an Interfaith Peace Blessing.
The February 11, 2018, event at the UPF offices was organized jointly by UPF and two affiliated organizations, Family Federation for World Peace and Unification (FFWPU) and Women’s Federation for World Peace (WFWP).
The celebration started with a performance by the Bosnian women’s choir Mimosa conducted by Selma Aljovic.
The Austrian Thai community played a central role in preparing the event, because Phravithetpunyaporn (Phramaha Boonthin) of Wat Phutharam, a representative of Thai Buddhism in Sweden, was visiting Vienna together with Mrs. Ing-Marie Kikuchi, the president of FFWPU-Sweden, to support the event. The Austrian representative of Thai Buddhism, Sompong Pongsomboon of Wat Thammaram, and more than 20 members of the Austrian-Thai community joined the program. After the Bosnian women’s choir, two Thai ladies performed a traditional Thai dance, which was much appreciated.
We were honored to welcome the minister councilor of the Royal Thai Embassy, Mr. Bolbongse Vangphaen, and the first secretary, Mr. Korakot Parachasit, to our event. After the welcoming remarks by Mrs. Elisabeth Cook, president of FFWPU-Austria, Mr. Bolbongse Vangphaen gave a short explanation about World Interfaith Harmony Week and expressed his appreciation to UPF for holding an interreligious event and bringing cultures together.
Peter Haider, the president of UPF-Austria, explained about UPF’s interreligious activities and UPF celebrations of World Interfaith Harmony Week.
The religious leaders present were asked to say prayers for peace, and several couples participated in the Interfaith Peace Blessing.
Prayers were offered by:
- Phramaha Boonthin from Sweden and Phramaha Sompong Pongsomboon from Vienna
- Arthur Nzekwu from the Celestial Church of Christ
- Imam Ahmed Sadaqat of the Ahmadiyya Muslim community of Austria
- Singh Mangat from the Sikh community of Vienna
- Andreas Schwediauer from the Hermetic Society of Austria
Dr. Wolfgang and Keiko Czerny, a senior couple from FFWPU, led the Interfaith Peace Blessing. The couples shared a small cup of wine or juice as a symbol of their unity and love for each other.
The Thai dancers performed another traditional dance to close the program, at which time lunch was served. The participants enjoyed the festive atmosphere, and the organizers were especially grateful for the support of the Bosnian women’s choir, the Thai monks, the representatives of the Royal Thai Embassy, and the Viennese Thai community.