Folding paper flowers for religious harmony

11 May 2006

— Young members of the Baha'i community here recently gave support to a national interfaith project aimed at bringing Singaporeans of all races and religions together.

About 40 youth gathered at the Singapore Baha'i Center on 15 April 2006 to fold paper lotuses as part of the Project Million Lotus 2006, which is sponsored by the Singapore Buddhist Federation.

The effort aims to have young people of all races and religions make a million paper lotuses as symbols of purity and harmony.

"The idea of folding a paper lotus is taken from the symbolic meaning of a lotus that grows in muddy water and yet emerges into a pure and beautiful flower," said Lynette Thomas, Secretary of The Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Singapore.

"Every lotus folded is like a wish for harmony that unites all people in Singapore," said Ms. Thomas. "Each of the nine major religions has been invited to open up their centers for one Saturday to host youth from other communities to come and fold paper lotuses."

Ms. Thomas said in addition to the 15 April event, Baha'i study circles in the city have also folded lotuses for the project. She said about 4,000 lotuses have been contributed so far by Baha'is.

The 40 young people who gathered at the Singapore Baha'i Center included many from Chung Cheng High School who are not Baha'is.

"Regarding the million Lotus project, I think it is a very meaningful one," said Sabrina Han, one of the Baha'i youths who participated on 15 April, saying it brings "many youths from different religions together."

Anita Kuppusamy, another of the Bahai youths who participated on 15 April, said she found that the effort lead to meeting many new friends.

"Though I had a hard time folding the lotuses at first, I got better at it after folding a few," she said. "The center was filled with energetic youths and I was glad to be one of them."

The project has received support from Singaporean President S.R. Nathan, as well as from the Central Singapore Community Development Council, Trust Central, the Inter Religious Organisation (IRO) of Singapore, and several Singapore corporations.

The lotuses were scheduled to be displayed at the Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza on 6-7 May 2006 as the highlight of the "Growing Compassion, Harvesting Harmony," Singapore celebration of the Vesak Festival.

"The National Assembly is delighted by the initiative shown by the Baha'i youth to be part of this event to foster inter-religious harmony," said Ms. Thomas. "It has provided them with a great opportunity to learn more about the peace-loving religion of Buddhism and to interact with the Buddhist youth."

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