Indonesia 23 January: Badung Regency, Bali
1500 Children at One Ceremony in Badung, Bali!
Our international team awoke early to meet our police escort that guided our buses to Puspem Park in the district of Badung. We arrived to the sound of traditional Balinese music. With the banner and flags in the front we started the procession to the venue.
These talented young local musicians added the authentic local touch we needed to happily know we were definitely in Bali!
As we approached the main buildings hundreds of children from 15 different local Badung Regency schools were waiting for us!
The list of schools present, all from Badung Regency, follows; TK Imanuel; SD 1, n 2, n 3 Sempidi; SMP 1, n 2 Kuta Utara; SMP 2 n 3 Mengwi; SMA DHARMA SASTRA SEMPIDI; SMP 5 MENGWI; SMA 1 KUTA UTARA; SMK PGRI 3 BADUNG; SMK PARIWISATA DALUNG; SMK WIRA HARAPAN; SMK BALI KRISNA MEDIKA.
On arrival Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run Executive Director, Salil Wilson, handed the Peace Torch over to the Vice Bupati of Badung Regency, Made Sudiana.
Lifting the torch high for all to see Made Sudiana lead all of us into the Temple grounds for the Ceremony.
The Vice Bupati handed the Peace Torch onto I Wayan Mustika Yasa, who was representing the regions champion runners. He led our team of runners onto the stage and stood holding the Peace Torch for the duration of the formal ceremony.
To start the ceremony we all stood to sing the Indonesian Raya (National Anthem of Indonesia). For many of us this was the first time we heard this beautiful song.
Afterwards we all stayed standing for a moment of silence. To stand with over 1500 people in pin drop silence caught your heart.
The Balinese dancers were then invited to the stand to perform the Sekar Jepun. This is a flower dance represented the Frangipani flower of this region. And with these dancers in their costumes and delicate dance movements you could see them transforming into these fragrant flowers.
Salil was then invited up to introduce the Peace Run. He started by quoting what Sri Chinmoy had said about Bali when he visited many years ago;
"Heaven On Earth! Of all the places I have visited in the last 15 or 16 years, Bali is undoubtedly the best. It has everything: sincerity, simplicity, purity, humility and peace. Even outwardly it is so beautiful. They have such simplicity!
Here in Bali, nature herself will accelerate your inner progress!
This place is Heaven on earth. In many aspects it is even better than India. I am an Indian, but sincerity has to speak!”
Salil spoke of how grateful we are to the people of Bali for preserving and perpetuating the spirit of Bali for the world citizens to love and enjoy. He said we will carry this spirit of love, harmony and peace in our hearts and in our torch as we continue running in over 100 nations this year.
The Vice Bupati Made Sudiana was then invited up to address us.
He expressed on behalf of the Government, the People of Badung Regency and The Badung Regent, Anak Agung Gde Agung, what an honour it was for them to receive the Peace Torch and to host this Ceremony.
“This event is really appropriate with the spirit and the values of the Indonesian personality, specially the people of Badung Regency, such as brotherhood, peace and especially the life philosophy of the people in Badung Regency…
We also believe that sport can play a very important role in bringing people together that can unite people from many countries. Besides that, sport can give us health, which is an investment for us. Through this event I hope I can invite other people, especially our young generation, to stay healthy and keep peace in the world. This important thing, this event, can inspire all people for peace to become the need of our life.”
Sushashani then came to the stage to speak to the 1500 students about the Peace Run, her enthusiasm was infectious and within seconds all the students were swarming to the front of the stage.
With over 30 different nations here we did not play our Country Guessing game with every country, but a select amount of Peace Runners came to the stage and gave some clues to the students. You could hear the whispers in the crowd before they turned into excited cries and they guessed (very quickly) each of the countries.
As one of our Bali Peace Runners came to the stage and announced where she was from the cheers grew so loud!
Then everyone stood to be taught the World Harmony Run song with actions, they all learnt the English words so fast and joined in with the actions!
Next we all raised our right hands, put them on our hearts, and shared our love of peace with all of humanity.
Our Choir then sang songs that Sri Chinmoy composed about Bali. As they started singing all four torches were lit so that each of the students could hold the torch and make their silent prayer or wish for Peace.
So often there would be groups of students who would hold the torch together and close their eyes making their silent prayer for peace. Watching this you could tangibly feel the intensity of this moment.
New York Peace Run representative, Pragati Pascale, (on the right), came to the stage to present to the Vice Bupati on behalf of Jharna Kala foundation and the Peace Run a framed piece of Sri Chinmoy’s Jharna Kala artwork entitled "World-Harmony". Pictured in the centre between Salil and Suhasini is the organiser of todays event, local Peace Runner Kanyaka Arini. She grew up and continues to live in Badung Regency; it was her dream to have a Peace Run in her local area. Needless to say, she was thrilled to see her dream come true on such a grand scale!
In return, on behalf of Badung Regency, Vice Bupati Made Sudiana then presented a special plaque to Salil, who received it on behalf of The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run.
After this we were led (by the police) to do a lap of the grounds. This was a great opportunity for us to spend some more time with the students and for them to run with the torch.
Uhaina from Mexico, Shumbhani from Guatemala, and Atulya from The United States are followed by runners from all over the world!
We finished at the Frangipani garden were the Vice Bupati, Salil and others had gathered to plant two Frangipani Trees. This garden and the trees planted there were planted by the honored guests of this Regent, including the previous President of Indonesia. These Frangipanis that were planted today originated from Mexico. The Vice Bupati and Salil placed the first mounds of soil. Our Mexican runner, Uhaina Maya, was invited next and then all of the international team came up to place soil around the roots of the trees.
These plaques will be mounted in front of the trees. They each have a poem on the theme of peace by Sri Chinmoy in English and Indonesian.
What does peace do? Peace blossoms. What else? Peace spreads. What else? Peace illumines. What else? Peace fulfils.