|Service unites interfaith communities in
prayer for peace
Juniartha, The Jakarta Post, Kuta, Bali
Hundreds of Hindu, Islam, Christian and
Buddhism followers gathered at the famous Kuta Beach on Sunday evening to take part in an
interfaith service, a Mahashanti Puja (prayer for peace), to ask God to bestow
peace on the souls of 184 victims of the Oct. 12 bombing.
"We ask God to engulf these souls in his
infinite compassion and love so that their journey to the next realm will not be hampered
by the violent nature of their deaths," said event initiator Agus Indra Udayana of
Gandhi Puri Ashram.
"We also appeal that God may strengthen
the faith of the deceased families and the Balinese people so that the pain and anguish
caused by the terrorist attack will not transform into hatred or a desire for revenge.
Violence will not solve anything, and both the terrorists and we should understand this
truth," he said.
The Mahashanti Puja was held only 500
meters from the site of the explosions.
At least three different Hindu groups
participated in the Mahashanti Puja, namely, the followers of Sai Baba, Hare
Khrisna and Mahatma Gandhi. Meanwhile the Muslims attending came mainly from the country's
largest Muslim organization, Nadhlatul Ulama (NU).
A Pada Yatra, (peace walk) during which
all the participants walked some 400 meters along the beach while carrying a 60-meter-long
white cloth stretched above their head, started the Puja.
"During the walk all of us chanted the
sacred songs of our beliefs as our part in performing Pamarisuddha Bumi (Earth
purification)," Agus Indra Udayana said.
After the Pada Yatra, each religious
group prayed successively and performed a ritual for the souls. The Buddhists, for
instance, chanted the Mahakaruna Dharani (prayer for universal love), a wish for
happiness and peace for every being.
Meanwhile, the Hindus performed the Agni
Hotra, (fire homage) while reciting the Maha Mantra for the souls' safe and
speedy journey to the abode of God.
"The explosion was powerful and shattered
part of our sanity, but it will fail in turning us into the kind of people the terrorists
are -- violent, merciless and bloodthirsty," a Hare Khrisna follower said.
As the sun gradually set in the beautiful
evening horizon of Kuta Beach and a full moon appeared in the east, the participants lit
bamboo torches and carried the white cloth into the sea. This marked the end of the
"It was a symbolic act of guiding the
deceased souls into the dwelling of the Lord of the Sea, Varuna, who is responsible for
purifying the souls," Agus Indra Udayana said.