Goa’s communal harmony highlighted at int'l inter-faith conference

'Sadbhav Sammelan', a two-day international inter-faith conference was recently held in Pilar
International Inter-faith conference
International Inter-faith conference

PHSeveral examples of Goa's communal harmony were highlighted during the ‘Sadbhav Sammelan’, a two-day international inter-faith conference that was recently held at the Pilar Pilgrim Centre, Pilar, North Goa.

During his keynote address, folklore researcher and environmentalist, Rajendra Kerkar, said, "We can find numerous and inspiring examples of communal harmony in Goa."

Rajendra Kerkar speaking during keynote address.
Rajendra Kerkar speaking during keynote address.


Kerkar also mentioned that the Society of Pilar was taking a keen interest in encouraging communal harmony. He called upon the participants of the conference to guard and pass down this great heritage to the future generations.


In his address, Convenor of Sadbhav, Fr Elvis Fernandes, said, “Goa is blessed with inter-religious harmony and stands out as a beacon to the rest of India.”

Participants of the conference.
Participants of the conference.


This year's 'Sadbhav Sammelan' was attended by over 90 participants, while the event was held at the Pilar Pilgrim Centre, Pilar, North Goa, on February 17, 2023 and February 18, 2023.

The conference was organised by ‘Sadbhav’ in collaboration with Fr Agnel College of Arts and Commerce, Pilar; Nirmala Institute of Education, Panjim; Carmel College of Arts, Science & Commerce for Women, Nuvem; Rosary College of Commerce and Arts, Navelim; and St Andrew’s Centre for Philosophy and Performing Arts, Mumbai.

Students, educators, peace activists and faith leaders from all over the world took part in the conference to promote the concept of peaceful coexistence and harmonious living.

Along with the participants from Goa and a few other states of India, there were also two international participants who attended the conference.

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The conference began with a prayer dance, in Kathak style, by Bhagyashree Premnath Chari rendering ‘Sarva–jiva–sukham; sarva–dharma sakhyam’, a composition of Fr. Charles Vas. This was followed by lighting of the lamp, welcome address by Prof. Savio Falleiro, principal of Fr. Agnel College of Arts and Commerce, Pilar, Goa.

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On the first day of the conference, research papers were presented by Prof Kishu Daswani (Government Law College, Mumbai), Asst Prof Shefali Kale (St Xavier’s College, Mapusa), Jude Fernandes (Nirmala Institute of Education, Panjim), Asst Prof  Roman Rodrigues (Rosary College of Arts and Commerce, Navelim), Dr Francis Carvalho (Pilar Theological College), Manjiri Vaidya (Ramniranjan Jhunjhunwala College, Mumbai), Fr. Anand Mathew (Vishwa Jyoti Communications, Varanasi) and Michelle Colaco (Carmel College, Nuvem). The paper presentations were chaired by Dr Agnelo Pinheiro and Tallulah D’Silva.

These papers shared interesting perspectives on religion and interfaith harmony and enabled a fruitful discussion among the participants.

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The day ended with the screening of a short Konkani film, titled ‘Jaticho Khell by the students of Government College, Sanquelim and also the staging of a national award-winning Hindi play ‘Amaanat’, performed by Prerna Kala Manch, Varanasi, based on a short story ‘Mandir-Masjid’ written by Munshi Premchand.

The play was directed by Motilal Gupta and Anand Mathew  from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

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Day 2 of Sadbhav Sammelan saw had two parallel workshops on ‘Mapping Diversity in India’ by Irfan Engineer (Centre for Study of Society and Secularism) and ‘Poetry: A Creative and Meditative Exercise’ by Dr Omkar Bhatkar.

Added to this, three guest lectures on the theme, Gandhi and Religion; Dialogue: Religion and Beyond; The Search for God through the works of Florence Nightingale were delivered by Dr Subodh Kerkar, Dr Ivon Almeida and Dr Omkar Bhatkar respectively. 

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The conference came to a close with a melange of poems, skits, music, songs and a Hindi play, titled, Duniya ka Mela, by Prerna Kala Manch, Varanasi, inspiring the participants to imbibe the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam (the whole world is one family).

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