'Sadbhav Sammelan' (Interfaith Conference) was organized by the society of Pilar in Goa, on February 17-18, 2023, to bring communal harmony to society.
Rajendra Kerkar, the folklore researcher and environmentalist said “we can find numerous and inspiring examples of communal harmony in Goa.”
According to him, the Society of Pilar is committed to encouraging communal harmony, and he appealed to conference participants to protect and pass down this great heritage.
A member of the Society of Pilar and the Conference's organizer, Father Elvis Fernandes, said, “Goa is a beacon of interfaith harmony in India."
The conference was organised by ‘Sadbhav’ in collaboration with Father Agnel College of Arts and Commerce, Pilar, Nirmala Institute of Education, Panjim, Carmel College of Arts, Science & Commerce for Women, Nuvem, Rosary College of Commerce and Arts, Navelim, and St Andrew’s Centre for Philosophy and Performing Arts, Mumbai.
The conference was attended by ninety participants, including students, educators, peace activists, and two international participants, Geniale Awoussa from Togo and Regina Lomarda from the Philippines.
A participant, Gayathri Rao Konkar, said, "The Sadbhav Sammelan provided a wonderful opportunity for me to interact with so many inspirational individuals who are working tirelessly and with great sincerity toward the promotion of peace and harmony between diverse faiths, as well as between individuals, communities, and nature.”
“I was also encouraged by the enthusiasm of the young student participants and was filled with great hope for the future. I was left with a feeling of immense positivity and a possibility of achieving harmony even in a world where the media and politics can be so depressingly divisive,” she stated.
Regina Lomarda from the Philippines said, “it was very enriching and interactive and a learning process that prepares oneself to build bridges and effective dialogue with people of other faiths.”
"It was encouraging to see the participation of many college students, and indeed, the inputs of various speakers will help shape the minds of the youth towards inter-religious harmony and peace," she added.
On the first day of the conference, research papers were presented by Prof. Kishu Daswani (Government Law College, Mumbai), Assistant Professor Shefali Kale (St Xavier’s College, Mapusa), Jude Fernandes (Nirmala Institute of Education, Panjim), Assistant Professor Roman Rodrigues (Rosary College of Arts and Commerce, Navelim), Dr. Francis Carvalho (Pilar Theological College), Manjiri Vaidya (Ramniranjan Jhunjhunwala College, Mumbai), Father Anand Mathew (Vishwa Jyoti Communications, Varanasi) and Michelle Colaco (Carmel College, Nuvem). The paper presentations were led by Dr Agnelo Pinheiro and Tallulah D’Silva.
The second day was a more hands-on affair with two parallel workshops on ‘Mapping Diversity in India’ by Irfan Engineer (Centre for Study of Society and Secularism) and ‘Poetry: A Creative and Meditative Exercise’ by Dr. Omkar Bhatkar. Added to this, three guest lectures on the themes, Gandhi and Religion; Dialogue: Religion and Beyond; The Search for God through the works of Florence Nightingale were delivered by Dr. Subodh Kerkar, Dr. Ivon Almeida and Dr. Omkar Bhatkar respectively. - Alisha Souza
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