In a remarkable interfaith gesture and a unique way to welcome 2018, 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 distinguished 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 James D. Kosko, Pastor of Squaw Valley United Church of Christ; Rigoberto Ruano Mireles, Deacon at Saint Thérèse Roman Catholic Church of the Little Flower; Abdel Aziz, Imam at Northern Nevada Muslim Community; Buddhist priests Matthew T. Fisher and Shelley L. Fisher; Jewish rabbi ElizaBeth Webb Beyer; Hindu leader Rajan Zed; Sherman W. Baker Junior, Chief Chaplain at Veterans Administration Sierra Nevada Healthcare; Baha’i prayer group “The McPhersons”; American Indian spirituality scholar Brian E. Melendez. In addition, Taiko drumming ensemble Tsurunokai Taiko directed by Rieko Shimbo delivered “Hachijo Honbayashi”; Jim R. Eaglesmith sang peace-prayer “Under One Sky”; Kundalini chanters headed by Linda M. Azar recited “God and me, Me and God, Are one”; “Spirit Singers” lead by Leslie A. Fudge sang “All Good Gifts”; 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 2018” and many of them signed a banner affirming peace, love and unity in 2018.
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 to the world for 2018; 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.