Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Nov 19, 2008: Rohila Peace Pilgrimage in India: Second Report

ACHA-Pritam Rohila <>
dateWed, Nov 19, 2008 at 9:01 PM
subjectNov 19, 2008: Rohila Peace Pilgrimage in India: Second Report

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Nov 19, 2008: Rohila Peace Pilgrimage in India: Second Report
Varanasi was last stop on the Indian part of our 2008 Peace Pilgrimage. Our visit there on October 29, 30 and 31 was quite a success.
On the first evening, the Citizen’s Front organized a formal ceremony for presentation of one of the four 2008 ACHA Peace Star Awards to Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi. Twenty-five individuals had been invited, but about seventy-five people showed up! Some of them had come from the neighboring state of Bihar.
Local newspapers and TV channels provided wide coverage to the Awards Ceremony on October 29 as well as the following day.
Credit goes primarily to the good work Dr. Raghuvanshi, his wife Shruti (see their picture attached with this message), and under their leadership, Peoples Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) have been doing, for the last several years, to improve the lot of the low caste and deprived sections in U. P. and Bihar.
Next morning we participated in a discussion with the students of the Malviya Peace Centre at Banaras Hindu University. The discussion was led by the Center Director Prof. Priyankar Upadhaya and Prof. Ashok Kaul of the BHU Sociology Department.
On October 31, our last day at Varanasi, we visited the PVCHR office, where we held a discussion with the key members of their staff on the theme of our Peace Pilgrimage – Peace in my Family, Harmony in My Neighborhood.
At Varanasi we also met with some residents of a Muslim neighborhood which had been the scene of communal clashes for several years during an annual Hindu religious procession through its streets. The problem was resolved when the Muslims decided to keep their shops and homes shuttered during the procession and not to respond to the aggressive posturing by some its participants and organizers.
Besides we learnt how a Muslim leader helped maintain communal harmony in the tension-laden city, just after a terrorist attack at a Varanasi Hindu temple.
Together with our meetings at Bhopal, Lucknow, and Allahabad, our visit to Varanasi marked the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the Association for Communal Harmony in Asia. It represented an attempt on our part to reach out beyond the Internet to establish personal contacts with some key peace, harmony and human rights organizations and their leaders.We hope to turn these contacts into effective working relationships.
Also as a part of our visit students of three public schools and one Madrasa took the ACHA Pledge of Peace and Harmony:
“I pledge –
I will not use mu hands or my words to harm anyone;
I will treat my sisters and daughters with at least as much love and respect as I treat my brothers and sons; and
I will treat all my neighbors as deserving of my respect, regardless of their class, caste sect or religion.”

Kundan and I are thankful to ACHA Members Dr. Sachin Tewari and Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi for the success of the Indian part of our Peace Pilgrimage. In spite of serious illness of his mother, Dr. Tewari arranged our meetings at Bhopal, Lucknow and Allahabad.
During our stay at Varanasi we also had the opportunity to visit Sarnath, where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon, and witness the sunrise prayers at the Dasashvamedha Ghat on the western bank of the River Ganges.
Since leaving Varanasi, we have witnessed the nightfall prayers to Ganga at Rishikesh, Chhath rituals at Hari-ki-Pairi, and the Sunset Flag Lowering Ceremony at the India-Pakistan Border Crossing at Wagah. Also we have visited the Chandi Temple at Haridwar, Golden Temple at Amritsar, Yadvindra Gardens at Pinjore, Rock Garden at Chandigarh, Taj Mahal and Fort at Agra, Chishti Dargah at Fathpur Sikri, Amber Fort and Birla Temple at Jaipur, and the Bahai Lotus Temple and Humayun Tomb at Delhi.
Besides, in the company of Arun, one of our sons, we have visited with family and friends at Rohtak, Karnal, Patiala, Jalandhar, Chheharta, Chandigarh, Murthal, Faridabad, and Delhi.
This morning (Nov 19) we have returned to Mumbai where we will enjoy the company and hospitality of our cousin Kuldip Mehta and his family until we embark on the Pakistan part of our Peace Pilgrimage on the night of November 23.

Pritam K. Rohila, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Association for Communal Harmony in Asia (ACHA) &

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