Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Christian leaders joined together to symbolically usher in peace by ringing a church bell in Srinagar, the main city in the violence-torn Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The bell at the 120-year-old Holy Family Catholic Church, the largest in the city, rang Oct. 29 for the first time in 50 years after it stopped working. The bell and belfry was damaged in a fire 1967 and the economically poor parishioners had no resources to install a new one until one of the 30 odd Catholic families in the parish donated a 105 kilogram bell this year, Father Roy Mathews said.
“We wanted to share this occasion with well-wishers of other faiths who joined and prayed for peace and normalcy, brotherhood and mutual respect for values and beliefs,” said Father Mathews the parish priest. Religious tolerance in Jammu and Kashmir, India’s only Muslim-majority state is “grossly misunderstood outside Kashmir. Our message to the world is clear that we are all one here and accept each other,” the priest said.
Manzoor Ahmad Malik, a Muslim at the church function, told that he was happy to see people from other faiths. “We want to give a message of peace to the world.”