Interfaith Groups Gather at World Heritage Site for “Great Earthquake”

July 15, 2017
Lalitpur, Nepal

Shinnyo-en was a host of a special prayer that took place on the evening of April 25, to mark the third anniversary of the Great Earthquake that struck Nepal in 2015.

The "Great Nepal Earthquake Evening Prayer Memorial," as it was named, took place at the World Heritage site of Patan Durbar Square, in Nepal. More than 3,000 citizens and religious leaders representing Hindu, Islam, Tibetan Buddhism, Newar Buddhism, Theravada Buddhism and Christianity, gathered to offer prayers of condolences and merit transfer to the victims.

Immediately after the devastation of the area became known, Shinnyo-en made a donation of one million yen in emergency aid to the Embassy of Nepal in Japan. In addition, Shinnyo-en has been coordinating relief efforts with Mahapa Social Service Trust, a local youth group operating in the area.

The “Evening Prayer Memorial” began last year, in an effort to unify the various religious groups and ethnicities in the region, and offer prayers of merit transfer with the hope of empowering survivors and those impacted by the earthquake towards rebuilding their lives and their communities. Shinnyo-en received support and worked in close partnership with the Jyapu Samaj-Yala, the Ethnic Communities Association, whose government-consigned role is to organize and oversee ceremonial events for the city.

At the service, more than 25 dignitaries were in attendance, including the former Ambassador of Nepal to Japan, Dr. Madan Kumar Bhattarai; the Senior Advisor to the President of Nepal; Member of Constituent Assembly Rt. Hon Chandra Maharajan; the Mayor of Patan, Rt. Hon Hari Krishna Dahal, and other pan-religious leaders sympathetic to the cause.

In his opening remarks, Assistant Executive Director of Doctrine at Shinnyo-en, Masato Yabu'uchi stated the purpose of the ceremony on behalf of the hosts: "Like many of us here today, Her Holiness Shinso Ito of Shinnyo-en also considered what she could do to help those who were impacted by the Great Earthquake.”

Mr. Yabu’uchi added: “Her Holiness’ thoughts were to bring people together in a unity of hearts, casting aside our differences in religion, culture, language, customs and views, connecting with the souls of the lost ones, and aspire to the future of hope and liberation for all. We, together with the people of all religions gathered today, would like to make a memorial consolatory offering for the lost souls, and pray for the rapid reconstruction of Nepal.”

Afterwards, the dignitaries and faith leaders stood together and offered a prayer. Those in attendance lit candles, provided by Shinnyo-en, so that people could offer their prayers of merit transfer and reconstruction to the victims and those people left in devastating situations.

In addition to the volunteer work of Shinnyo-en’s SeRV volunteer relief network, Shinnyo-en has made several donations of equipment and supplies. They were also involved in the set-up and cleaning of the grounds for the ceremonial prayer. Their work will continue, as Nepal moves forward in its rebuilding of the areas struck by the earthquake.