In a remarkable interfaith gesture and a unique way to welcome 2017, various religions got together in Reno (Nevada, USA) to celebrate the ringing in of the New Year at midnight in a unique and divine manner, away from the glitter of the casinos and sending a message of unity to the world.
Coordinated by religious statesman Rajan Zed, standing room only “Multi-faith New Year’s Eve Service” attended by few hundred people and hosted by Reno Buddhist Center included Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i and Native American prayers.
Religious leaders who prayed included Monique Jacobs, Director of Faith Formation of Roman Catholic Diocese; Verita Black Prothro of Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church; Muhammed A. Quddus of Muslim community; Buddhist priests Matthew T. Fisher and Shelley L. Fisher; Jewish rabbi ElizaBeth Webb Beyer; Hindu leader Rajan Zed; Baha’i teacher Roya Galata and American Indian spirituality scholar Brian E. Melendez. In addition, Taiko drumming ensemble Tsurunokai Taiko directed by Rieko Shimbo delivered traditional Japanese piece Honbayashi; Jim R. Eaglesmith sang multi-faith musical medley; Kundalini chanters headed by Linda Azar recited “Ra Ma Da Sa” mantra; and Rabbi Beyer blew ancient musical horn shofar.
There was no “cover charge” for this Service where all were welcome and which ended with drum beats and ringing of bells. Participants took a pledge to “promote loving kindness in 2017”.
Prayers were a more appropriate way to welcome the New Year to our lives than gambling and drinking in the casinos and bars. Moreover, despite seriously different faith traditions, diverse religions coming together in prayer and community sent a positive signal of love, hope and harmony for 2017; Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out on the occasion.
Gambling is legal in the state of Nevada, which is known world over for its casinos and Las Vegas.