05 / 1993
ISER, a Brazilian NGO, initiated an all-night interreligious vigil for the Earth during the UNCED conference in Rio de Janeiro in June 1993. Rubem Fernandes reports : "The NGO territory at Flamengo Park, in Rio de Janeiro, became a "holy village" in the night of June 4th 1992. Twenty five different religious traditions joined in a twelve hours long celebration, from 8 p.m. through 8 a.m. of the next morning. According to security, around thirty five thousands entered the gates to be a part of the all night vigil. Each religious group took possession of one of the tents especially built for the Global Forum, making of it a workship space where the earth could be celebrated according to that tradition’s particular rites. Walking around the tents, as many chose to do, one entered the forest of symbols that have composed the deepest layers of world history. The experiment touched on fragile borderlines. Belief differences that have been the source of so many conflicts were brought awfully close for the vigil. The solemn eucharistic of the Roman Catholics (with Theilhard de Chardin’s Mass for the World’s Evolution)happened a few yards away from the largest to date gathering of Candomblé priestesses. The first time in the Americas, the Catholic hierarchy shared a celebration with the religious heirs to the African slaves. Austere Lutherans, led by the president to the World Lutheran Federation, worshiped next door to Brazilian spiritists. Hindu groupings, such as Ananda Marga, Brahma Kumaris, Sai Baba Movement, Guinana Mandiram, Hare Krishna endured their differences, meditating or dancing close by. Japanese (Rissho Kosei-Kai)and Tibetan buddhism could meet. Synchretic religions, such as the Japanese Brazilian Messianic Church or the Amazonian Santo Daime (generously sharing the hallucinogenous "ayuasca")held a respectful presence in crowded tents. Together again at dawn, they stayed in silence for some time, listening to the birds, while waiting for the arrival of his Holiness the Dalai Lama. They heard the words by the candid Tibetan king and by the humble Brazilian bishop, Don Helder Camara. They also heard the hawling sax of Paul Winter, held hands and litteraly cried to the singing of Olivia Byington, and saluted the new day joyfully dancing to the rythm of Hindu mantras."
Something very unique and promissing happened that night. Iser, the Brazilian NGO responsible for the vigil’s conception and organization (which is also the hub of Network Cultures Latin America), has proposed to have a vigil every year to provide a deeper meaning to current campaigns for social justice like the anti-hunger campaign in 1993.
Articles and files
FERNANDES,Ruben Cesar, VERHELST, Thierry in. CULTURES ET DEVELOPPEMENT - QUID PRO QUO, 1993/05 (BELGIUM), N°13/14
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