9/11 memorial: Hindu, Sikh leaders to share stage with Pope

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New York, Sept 23: A Hindu community leader and two prominent Sikhs will be among a select group of inter-faith leaders who will participate in a prayer service led by Pope Francis during his visit to the 9/11 memorial here this week.

Uma Mysorekar, an obstetrician and gynecologist and President of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, University at Buffalo Professor Satpal Singh and his daughter Gunisha Kaur will be among the dozen religious leaders to participate in the Multireligious Meeting for Peace presided over by the Pope inside the 9/11 Memorial Museum on Friday.

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Joining the Pope will be representatives from Buddhist, Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Jewish and Muslim faiths. The Pope will address the gathering and there will be prayers and meditations from various religious traditions.

Bangalore-born Mysorekar said her participation is giving her immense pride as it will provide prominence to the Hindu religion which will be recognised at a world stage. She said she might recipe the Sanskrit prayer 'Asato Ma Sad Gamaya, Tamaso Ma Jyotir Gamaya' at the prayer service.

"It does mean a lot. The meeting with the Pope will bring the Hindu religion to the forefront," Mysorekar said. She said that the prayer service will also provide an "exposure of other faiths" to the Pope, who will have a chance to hear other inter-faith leaders.

Mysorekar, who has met the previous pope Benedict, said the current Pope is very "forward-thinking". She is currently a Vice-Chair of the New York Interfaith Council.

According to the programme, Mysorekar will be joined by Ishanaa Rambachan in reciting the Hindu prayer. Rambachan is an Associate Principal at global management consulting firm McKinsey and has served on the Hindu American Foundation.

Singh is a Founding Trustee of the Sikh Council for Interfaith Relations, and the immediate past Chairperson of the World Sikh Council - America Region.

He is actively involved in Catholic-Sikh relations and interfaith dialogues on diversity and peace-making. An author and speaker on human rights issues, Singh conducts an annual summer-long research program at the University of Cambridge.

Kaur, an active member of the Sikh community, is the Director of the Department of Anesthesiology’s Global Health Initiative.

Among the inter-faith leaders participating in the special service is Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove of the Park Avenue Synagogue, Executive Director of the Islamic Center and Chaplain to Muslim students at New York University Imam Khalid Latif and Sri Lankan Buddhist Monk Bhante Hennbunne Kondañña.

Pope Francis will visit the 9/11 Memorial and Museum as part of the pontiff’s first trip to America, becoming the fourth leader of the Roman Catholic Church to visit the US.

Amid a grove of oak trees, he will pay his respects to the nearly 3,000 victims of the September 11 terror attacks and the February 1993 bombing at the World Trade Center.

Francis will be the first pope to visit the Memorial and Museum. His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, knelt and prayed during a ceremony in April 2008 at the World Trade Center site before the Memorial and Museum were opened.

PTI

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