Bal Shanti Utsav
Samachar Newsletter Bal Shanti Utsav – click for more information
Children’s Peace Festival – Bal Shanti Utsav was organized by The All India Council of Christian Women – Women and Gender justice wing of National Council of Churches in India on occasion of 60th Anniversary of Fellowship of Least Coin Movement on International Day of Prayer for Peace organized on 21st September 2016. This festival was organized in partnership with Methodist Church in Nagpur.98 children from Dalit from vulnerable background participated in this ‘Children’s Peace Festival’
According to Rev Dr Roger Gaikwad – General Secretary of National Council of Churches in India ” Children are practitioners of peace however their contributions of making peace are not always recognized by society. It is very essential to acknowledge children’s contribution in making peace and nurture spirituality of justice and peace among children. The Bal Shanti Utsav is one such endeavor of AICCW/ NCCI geared towards ecumenical and spiritual formation of children to build just and inclusive communities.”
The Fellowship of Least Coin is a world-wide ecumenical movement of prayer for peace, justice and reconciliation. Through this movement Christian women around the world seek fellowship with each other and are reminded to live a reconciled and forgiving life with others. Every time women and children pray for peace, justice, healing, reconciliation they offer the least coin. These coins are later sent to ICFLC (International Committee of Fellowship of Least Coin) which projects and women’s initiatives of peace around the world.
According to Moumita Biswas- Executive Secretary of All India Council of Christian Women – “In order to carry on the legacy of this praxis oriented prayer movement FLC we need to nurture our children to be peace makers and understand the power and strength of prayer . FLC movement breaks the barrier between the rich and the poor, the vulnerable and the powerful and deconstructs the power of ‘Mammon’. FLC has its its Biblical foundation on widows mite .
According to Sharon Immanuel “ Peace means my right to the birds sing and take care of our trees . Peace means to smile happily and without fear play with our friends. Asha shared “Peace in school means teacher will not beat if I am slow in my studies.”The children splashed the colours of peace as they drew their notion of peace .The painting of are great resource of understanding spirituality and articulating children’s theology . The painting will also be used as advocacy materials to promote the 365 Days Zero Tolerance to Gender Based Campaign of NCCI to promote Rights to Life and Dignity of Children in India and Child Protection Policies
Alarming concern children shared during this program and presentations was that they are aware of eve teasing and other forms of abuse on children . They even thought physical and corporal punishment in school is normal phenomenon. As per government of India Commissioned survey 65% of schoolchildren reported facing corporal punishment beatings by teachers.Lack of awareness on child protection policies and implementation of such polices make situation worse. Parents and relatives, persons known to the child or in a position of trust and responsibility were mostly found to be the perpetrators of child abuse in the country The report further revealed two out of every three children have been physically abused . 53% of children in India face sexual abuse. According to Rev Saroj Timothy ” Our children in this country are raised in culture of violence and they think its normal phenomenon . Children’s Peace Festival not only provided space for children to share their understanding of peace and how they practice peace but is an eye opener for us regarding the need to create awareness about rights to life in and dignity of children and promote child protection polices . Church can play prophetic role to do so . Fellowship of Least Coin Movement unites us in prayer and enables us to renew our commitment to build communities of justice and peace .”
Blessing the Neem Tree – Praying to make Peace with Mother Earth
Reported by –Moumita Biswas –
All India Council of Christian Women
Women and Gender Justice Wing of NCC India