The Peace Run is a global relay which promotes international friendship and understanding, founded by Sri Chinmoy. The 2017 Global Peace Run visited Shepparton on the afternoon of 16 June. A plaque was unveiled declaring Shepparton a “Peace Blossom City”.
In 1987, Sri Chinmoy, founded a run for international friendship the Peace Run. The Liberty Torch Run, a relay to mark America’s bicentennial in 1976, was the forerunner to this race. The World Harmony Run was initially held every two years and then annually. From 2005 to 2013 it was known under the name World Harmony Run. In June 2013 it returned to its previous name Peace Run. The team of international runners carry a torch as a symbol of friendship. The Peace Run has taken place in more than 100 countries. The aim of the torch run is to promote understanding and the harmonious relationship between the peoples of all nations, faiths and cultures.
Sri Chinmoy was an athlete, philosopher and humanitarian who saw sport as a powerful instrument for promoting global harmony. The run left Brisbane on May 30 and the torch has been carried the length of the coastline to Adelaide.
The inaugural Peace Run in Australia, staged in April and May of 1987, followed a route from Adelaide to Brisbane. In 2017, an international team of runners will reverse this original course, carrying the Peace Torch from Brisbane to Adelaide.
The Peace Run is a grassroots event and the international team meet with dignitaries, mayors, community groups and schools inviting them to participate by holding the peace torch and by making a step towards a more harmonious world. Past participants include Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela and Mikhail Gorbachev who supported the run and held the peace torch.
The run left Brisbane on May 30 and arrived at the Queen’s Gardens in Shepparton on Friday afternoon. Organiser Grahak Cunningham said all 13 runners who were accompanying it were looking forward to the journey. “The idea with the run is to get as many people holding the torch as possible,” he said. “Peace run has visited Shepparton before and we find it’s a great place to visit because it’s so multicultural.” There was a short ceremony with peace songs, poems and a plaque unveiling as Greater Shepparton joins other cities and nations across the world dedicated to peace as part of the Peace-Blossom program.
Mayor Dinny Adem gave a heartfelt speech on the message of peace and Shepparton’s pride in becoming a Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossom City. “Greater Shepparton is joining the Sri Chinmoy Peace-Blossom family by becoming a Peace-Blossom City,” he said, “joining it with other Peace-Blossoms around the world including Niagara Falls, the Great Barrier Reef and the Taj Mahal. Peace-Blossoms help spread a lasting reminder of peace to the community and world at large.”
Two refugee students and best friends from Afghanistan who attend Shepparton High School were invited to come and speak about the importance of peace. For Rubina Haidari and Latifa Haidary the sad realities of war meant they had to leave their homeland and they dream of a world full of peace, with Rubina saying “I wish you good health and strength for your important cause and message that you are trying to portray to the world.” “Thank you for coming to Shepparton which is a fantastic multicultural town we live in peacefully,” added Latifa.
Latifa went on to say,
We cannot do much but we can support events like yours. We are very appreciative for you organising this meaningful PEACE RUN event that raises awareness of the terrible conflicts around the world. Too many innocent peope die for no reason. As decent human beings we cannot close our eyes to pretend nothing is happening. We must take action and encourage people to spead the idea of LOVE, PEACE AND HARMONY instead of hatred and destruction.
Latifa and Rubina kindly gifted the runners with a mug and pen and most importantly a poem and artwork for peace to inspire them on their journey. The Peace Runners then sang a medley of peace run songs (rather catchy and nice1) and gathered for a final photograph.
The Sri Chinmoy Oneness-Home Peace Run is a global relay that seeks to promote international friendship and understanding. Since its inception in 1987 the Run has traversed over 100 nations and touched the lives of millions of people. Formerly known as The World Harmony Run, The Peace Run does not seek to raise money or highlight any political cause, but simply strives to create goodwill among peoples of all nations.
By passing the torch from one person to the next, the relay offers people from many nations the opportunity to express their hopes and dreams for a better, brighter future. People from all walks of life hold the symbolic torch to wish for a peaceful world. Passing the torch from one person to the next unites us together in our common aspiration to offer something positive to our world – together we can make a difference!
As the light begins to fail, Latifia holds the Peace Torch while Deputy Mayor Kim O’Keefe speaks