August 21, 2019
Gurgaon saw a very interesting initiative by a 17-year-old, 12th grade student of The Shri Ram School Aravali, Ayesha Dhall. She has launched a platform ‘Y4RH’ to start a conversation amongst the youth on the subject of “Religious Harmony”. Kicking the initiative off, Ayesha moderated a panel of religious heads and thinkers on August 3, 2019.
Ayesha Dhall moderates the 'Youth for Religious Harmony' panel discussion in Gurgaon
In the last 4 months, Ayesha met six religious’ leaders from different faiths to understand the similarities and differences between religions. After speaking to them, she realized that all religions have a lot in common and were quite similar at their core. It pained her that despite these similarities, there was distrust and hatred between people just based on their religious beliefs. That was the genesis of ‘Y4RH’.
Dr. M. Christhu Doss, Professor of History at JMC, Delhi and a scholar of Secularism and Christianity, said, “The root cause of inter-religious conflict is the belief that whatever one believes is the absolute and only truth, and the need to defend this belief.”
Ms. Farha Iman, Founder of Sarva Dharma Samvaad (SDS), narrated how her father, an Imam in a mosque in Delhi, was great friends with the priest of a temple next door. They used to decide the timings of the Azaan and prayer, so they never clashed. There was understanding and respect for boundaries.
Ms. Upasana Dhankhar, a scholar of Hindu law, Gita studies and Sanskrit literature said, “Youth can promote religious harmony by breaking barriers and by experiencing the world, experiencing different cultures and having a diverse friends circle. Our philosophers have said we will not know our culture until we know someone else’s.“
Rabbi Ezekiel Isaac Malekar, Head of the Jewish community in New Delhi, commented that, “India is the only truly multi religious country in the world. We must all realize we are Indians first and our identity comes after that.”
Mr. Simon Kuany, UNESCO MGIEP, manages #YouthWagingPeace and the TAGe program said, “Youth need to be open minded, such that they are willing to change when presented with something rigorous and contrary to their position.”
Ayesha plans to hold discussions on religious harmony at schools, conferences and share her message using social media and a website, www.y4rh.com.