People of all creeds gather to celebrate the day of love and peace
The sound of drums and singing resonated throughout the halls of the William-Hingston Centre last Sunday when dozens of Parc-Extension residents gathered to celebrate Eid-Milad-Un-Nabi, otherwise known as the day of love and peace.
Organized by the Himalaya Seniors of Québec and the Pakistan Organization of Quebec, the event hosted upwards of 60 people in a celebration of love, peace and coexistence.
The event was also attended by several local politicians and dignitaries, including Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli, city councillor Mary Deros, along with the Consul General of Pakistan in Montreal Ishtiak Ahmed Akil.
Although an Islamic religious event, the general public was invited and people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds were in attendance to celebrate, in what organizers said was the spirit of the event and a good representation of the social makeup of Parc-Extension.
Day of love and peace
The celebration is a recurring annual event organized by the Himalaya Seniors of Québec organization. “We started 20 years before and every year we are doing the same event, the day of love and peace,” said Nizam Uddin, general secretary of the Himalaya Seniors Association.
“We call from the Jewish community, from the Christian community, from other Hindu communities,” explained Uddin, underlining the multi-religious nature of the event. “Usually they take part and make speeches,” added Uddin.
“It’s a very multicultural event,” said Uddin, nonetheless underlining that the ongoing pandemic forced them to make the event smaller this year. In previous years, Uddin said that there had been upwards of 200 people, whereas this year they had to limit capacity to 80 people maximum.
The celebration included songs, music and stories about the Prophet Muhammad and an explanation of how Islam is a religion that fundamentally espouses the philosophies of love and peace.
“The Prophet Muhammad is the best messenger, best prophet, the best of mankind, but he was a human being,” explained the event’s master of ceremonies, before breaking into song with a group of 10 singers and musicians.
Parc-Extension as a microcosm
Among those in attendance for the celebration were local politicians Mayor Giuliana Fumagalli and City Councillor for Parc-Extension Mary Deros, who both gave speeches to those gathered.
“Nizam and the Himalaya Seniors have been promoting love and peace since I can remember,” said Deros. “We have communities from 115 different regions from all over the world,” she added, underlining how Parc-Extension was the perfect example of coexistence between different people.
“We are Montrealers, we are Canadians, and if you’re not a Canadian yet, then you will be soon,” concluded Deros, thanking the organizations behind the event and all those in attendance.
Need for community action
Mayor Fumagalli also spoke to the crowd of people celebrating, mentioning that she too was the daughter of immigrants and that everyone could aspire and become a meaningful productive player in their community.
“So when we come here to celebrate peace and love, it goes beyond just the words love and peace,” stated Fumagalli, adding that people had to do their part to change the community they lived in for the better. “We have to actually translate that into actions,” she underlined.
Fumagalli said that such action needed to be geared towards changing the unfortunate realities of many people in the borough, including the rampant lack of access to adequate and affordable housing, systemic racism and problems regarding the integration of immigrants.
“This is what I mean by peace and love, working together, supporting each other, and growing as a community, sharing as a community,” she said.