Despite a weather forecast of possible rain, an estimated 1000 plus Sarawakians turned up at the crack of dawn at the Association of Churches (ACS) carpark on September 29, 2018. They were there to participate in the annual Harmony Walk, initiated just last year.
Jointly organised by, the Association of Churches in Sarawak, the Islamic Information Centre, the Bahai and the Kuching Buddhist, Hindu and Sikh Associations, the event is aimed at expressing the people of Sarawak’s desire for unity, and to live in harmony with each other. It seeks to demonstrate that religions can unite, rather than, divide us.
With the theme ‘Unity Is Our Calling’, the spirit of religious freedom and harmonious co-existence was very much alive on that day.
This year’s event was organised by the Kuching Buddhist Society (KBS). Representatives from the various participating faith-based associations were present, including our Catholic Archbishop Simon Poh, and Blessed Sacrament Church’s rector, Fr Felix Au.
Participants of the Harmony Walk were entertained to a colourful welcoming dance routine. They were also invited to participate in a Zumba session to warm-up before the flag-off, which was delayed for about one and half hours because of heavy rain.
The 5 km-walk took participants past the many houses of worship. From the ACS carpark, the route covered the BEM Kuching Evangelical Church, Tong Kak Kuang Temple, Malaysian Hindu Sangam Sarawak Council, IIC, Sarawak Sikh Temple and Assembly of the Baha’is of Sarawak, and ended at the KBS building.
The show must go on…rain or shine
Some participants were happy to share what they experienced at the Harmony Walk.
Thomas Ting: “I really love our country, as it portrays true racial harmony and religious tolerance. Because of the heavy downpour early in the morning, I was able to get acquainted with Dr Shahrul and his family from Kota Samarahan.
I was amazed to see a Malay couple with 5 kids, aged 12 years old and below, participating in the Harmony Walk. Dr Shahrul, walking with an umbrella, was carrying a 1-year old baby on his back all the way. The rest of his adorable children were walking in the rain without any cover. It touched me so much that I offered to share my big umbrella with them, and we became friends. Praise The Lord!!! This is what we call ‘Racial Harmony’ and ‘Religious Tolerance’.”
Julian Chan: “It was a wet morning for the Harmony Walk. But we enjoyed the walk as we were able to meet up with some friends from different religions.”
Fr Felix Au: “I’m grateful to God for the opportunity to reconnect with old friends of other faiths during the Harmony Walk. The rain was an obstacle, but it didn’t dampen the spirit of many of us on that day. May Malaysians of goodwill, truly strive to build our nation to be one of greater harmony, love and respect, between all people.”
Edwina Tham: “Nothing is more beautiful than witnessing all religions gathering at a Christian premise, and partaking a simple meal at a Buddhist Temple.”
Wendy Lam: “I see that the objective of this walk is truly achieved through peace, love and respect. There were different groups of races playing among themselves, and some youths were having fun. Overall, the atmosphere was one of harmony. This was my first walk and I enjoyed the fresh air and cooling rain.”
Photos by: Dominic Bong