United States 19 April: Elizabeth - Princeton

Day one on the road!

We had beautiful weather for a perfect start to the run, leaving New York early to drive to Elizabeth, New Jersey to start our running.

Anna from Russia was very happy to have the honour of being our first runner out- not only for the day, but the entire run!

Harita was happy to run in the New Jersey sunshine!

Our first Ceremony of the day was at the Islamic Society of Central Jersey. Our State Coordinator, Subhamaya Tom Cusack, gave a heart felt introduction that made us all feel like one big family. Here he is pictured with Imam Chebli, the Spiritual Leader of the community.

Imam Chebli welcomed the team with great enthusiasm, offering the wholehearted support and blessings of his community. We were all deeply touched by the warm welcome we received!

Boy Scout leader, Saffet Catovis also gave a generous welcome to the team, and told us about an international programme they are involved with called "Peace Messengers". He also spoke of the important role that faith plays in the Boy Scout Philosophy.
Our team captain, Arpan, introduced the team and the run.

Muhammad Ashraf, Society President, kindly received our certificate of appreciation on behalf of the New Jersey Society.

We were extremely blessed to have the opportunity to observe the Midday Prayer Session. As the session wes starting, Imam Chebi kindly explained to the team the structure of the service.

Thank you so much to the Islamic Society of New Jersey for an incredibly enthusiastic welcome and blessing to the team!

We ran a picturesque two miles to the next Ceremony.

We are delighted that long time Peace Runner, Bansidhar, with a couple of friends, joined the team for the first two days.

Our next stop was the New Jersey Buddhist Vihara, home of the largest statue of Lord Buddha in the Western Hemisphere!

Head Monk, Hungampola Sirirathana, and friends were waiting to greet the runners.

Hungampola Sirirathana led the monks and team to walk around the statue three times. We were very moved by how soulful and serious the Ceremony was.

The monks offerd us a beautiful chant for protection while we all held a white string which was symbolically connecting us on the physical plane.

We all felt such Peace and Compassion from being in the presence of such a beautiful statue.

We were all given some blessed water to drink and a special string was tied around our wrists for Lord Buddha's protection.

Arpan offers our certificate of appreciation to Hungampola Sirirathana and Vineeta Nepal,our contact who kindly made it possible for us to visit the tallest and largest Buddha Statue in the United States.

Thank you so much to the New Jersey Buddhist Vihara Meditation Centre for the opportunity to make some more new friends and receive the blessings of the Lord Buddha on our first day!

Our final Ceremony of the day was the Princeton Durga Mandir Temple, where we received an official welcome from Dr Bikki Jaggi on behalf of the Temple.

Pictured here is the team with the Primary Statue of worship. Durga embodies all three aspects of the Holy Trinity, Creation, Preservation and Transformation. The temple contains beautiful statues of the goddess Durga in her many forms.

The torch was blessed by the Preists and Mother Durga, and handed back to Subhamaya Tom Cusack, who spoke on behalf of the team.

We were offered a blessed rose, and each team member was given a protective Stole to wear.

Arpan offered our certificate of Appreciation to Dr Bikki Jaggi, who offered most heart-felt words of encouragement and oneness to the team.

Our friend Panpaj from TV Asia came to all of our ceremonies today. He is putting together a story about the Peace Run. Panpaj filmed some of Sri Chinmoys weightlifting feats several years ago.

The torch was passed around all those present at the Temple.

We offer our deepest gratitude to our dear friends and loyal Peace Run supporters, Subhamaya Tom Cusack and Srutavinda Ginny Cusack for taking care of the team with such love and extravagence that it will be very hard to match! From organising the whole day of activities, providing enough food to feed a royal army, luxurious accomodation..and that was just the beginning!

We all sang the Peace Run song together, and already look forward to our next visit 2 years from now. Srutavinda and Subhamaya promise they will come with us next time...What a wonderful first day!