Home

GreenFriends at the Parliament of World Religions

The bodhi tree
The Embracing the World booth at the 2018 Parliament of World Religions

GreenFriends and Embracing the World were represented at the 2018 Parliament of World Religions in Toronto, November 2 - 7, 2018.

The Parliament of the World's Religions was "created to cultivate harmony among the world's religious and spiritual communities and foster their engagement with the world and its guiding institutions in order to achieve a just, peaceful and sustainable world".

The 7th Parliament of the World’s Religions featured more than 500 programs and events across six major tracks:

  • The Women's Track: The Dignity of Women Across the World's Wisdom Traditions
  • Countering War, Hate & Violence Track: Peace and Love: Not War, Hate & Violence
  • Climate Action Track: Care for Our Earth, Responsibility for Our Future
  • The Indigenous Peoples’ Track: The Spiritual Evolution of Humanity & Healing Our Mother Earth
  • The Next Generations Track: Interfaith Has No Age, Youth Voices for Change
  • Justice Track: Advancing Concrete Change Toward a Just, Peaceful, and Sustainable World

The event in Toronto was the seventh parliament over a period spanning 125 years. Amma was a keynote speaker at the 2004 Parliament of World Religions in Barcelona, served as one of three presidents of Sanatana Dharma at the 1993 Parliament in Chicago, and had been invited to speak in Toronto as well. For the 2018 Parliament, Green Friends was invited to host a booth as part of the Interfaith Family Festival (IFF). The IFF had the theme of “Plant an Interfaith Garden” and featured five days of "joyful, engaging, and experiential spiritual exploration for kids, teens, families, schools, and faith groups."

Each booth in the Interfaith Family Festival had a theme and an activity focused on children. The GreenFriends/Embracing the World booth had the theme titled, "The Light of Diwali - The Light Within You".

Diwali, also known as Deepavali or the Festival of Lights, marks the return of Lord Rama from exile. The Festival of Lights takes place on the darkest night (first night of the new moon) in the month of Kartik in the Hindu calendar, this year falling on November 7 - the final day of the Parliament.

Using an oil lamp with colored light bulbs in the place of wicks, the booth gave children an opportunity to light the lamp by pressing one of three buttons. Each button corresponded to actions children may have perfomed related to three different manifestations of peace and light:

  • Creating peace within us
  • Creating peace around us
  • Creating peace in the world

Having identified an action related to one of the expressions of peace, children could then press a button to light a portion of the lamp. If they had performed actions corresponding to each form of peace, they could press the buttons until the lamp of peace was fully lit. The actions were all simple things that represent concrete ways to make the world a brighter place, like smiling, being kind to others, planting a tree, being a good friend, saving water, recycling, reducing meat consumption, meditating, forgiving others, performing actions with love and many more.

Top

In addition to having an opportunity to light the lamp, children were given a gift of a peat pot complete with soil and basil seeds that they could plant on the their return home.

The booth itself was divided into three sections, the Diwali lamp activity, an Embracing the World table and a GreenFriends table. The tables were lined with posters featuring collages of GreenFriends environmental prinicples and Embracing the World initiatives. It also included a garlanded photo of Amma and a Diwali table covered with candles.

The GreenFriends table had many examples of inefficient, one-time use plastic items paired with their more ecological counterparts such as glass or metal drinking bottles vs plastic water bottles, cloth bags vs plastic bags, shampoo bars vs plastic shampoo bottles, paper dental floss dispensers and plant-based dental floss vs plastic floss and dispensers, and many more.

The entire display was a collaborative effort among many devotees, but was primarily the result of the efforts of the Toronto satsang with help from the Montreal satsang. Many visitors were both touched and impressed by what the booth communicated, and even though Amma was not physically present, her grace was definitely felt.

As Madhurima from Quebec so eloquently stated, "It was a magnificent weekend, Thank You, Amma! So nourishing to see so many people coming from all possible paths, joined together in the consciousness and intention of our shared Unity and Love.

The days were full of tears of gratitude, laughter, and hugs exchanged between strangers from all corners of the Earth. Vishwan from Santa Fe and Natasha, Maala, Than and Gayatree from Toronto outdid themselves in the booth preparations and it was a joy to have the opportunity to talk of Amma and her works to all sorts of people, including children.

The Sikhs offered us their Langar each day, depositing bright orange turbans on our heads. As if she heard my silent joking request, a beautiful grandmother gifted me with a head massage and kiss. I bought two wonderful First Nations books, the first called Water Walker which describes the beautiful work of Grandmother Josephine Mandamin and another which explains the celebration of the arrival of the moons for young girls and the beauty of this event in connection with the moon and all her magic!

There was also the moment when I discovered, in the midst of the Parliament, a quilt exhibition in which my mother participated over 20 years ago, representing all the world’s nations and all the First Nations (an immigrant from Australia, my mother had embroidered wattles and other gorgeous flowers.) Always profoundly touched by aboriginal ceremonies, I was overjoyed to find myself in front of a sacred fire in the center of downtown Toronto!"

Top

Home Source Reduction North America Green Friends Green Friends Worldwide What You Can Do Newsletters Resources News Contact Us

For more information, e-mail info@greenfriendsna.org