The Malawi Hindu Community and Rastafarians say only tolerance and unity amongst different religious denominations in the country can catalyze the faith community’s efforts in meeting the government development agenda.
The Hindu and Rastafarian religions made this appeal at the end of ‘Seven Days of Harmony Week’ which is annually celebrated from the 1st to 7th February globally.
Spokesperson for the Hindu Faith in Lilongwe, Vinay Pathare, told Malawi News Agency (Mana) in an interview on Thursday in Lilongwe that Malawi can meet economic, social, political and technological developments if all religions worked together towards achieving total unity and peace.
“We can achieve peace and human development in all dimensions if religious denominations can work in one front towards government agenda of developing our communities.
“As the Hindu faith in Malawi, we are appealing for religious tolerance. Let us live in religious diversity with total unity and respect for others; eventually we can achieve religious unity that will finally bear us political and human development,” Pathare said.
He then called upon all Malawians to seek information on different religions for them to understand and gain knowledge on the same so that they are able to respect the teachings and beliefs of those religions.
“Hindu followers are not controversial in any way, we are more than ready to work together with all religions, our doors are open to those who seek to understand more of what Hinduism is all about,” he added.
Elder Ras Patrick Galawanda of the Rasta community echoed Phatare’s sentiments by asking organizations, government and Malawians in general to understand Rastafarians and live in total harmony with them.
Galawanda said: “It is unfortunate that every time people hear of Rastafarianism, they associate it with Marijuana or Cannabis sativa, which is wrong. Such a perception harboured by many dents the image of the religion.”
On her part, Chairlady for the youth wing of United Religious Initiative (URI), Miriam Hassan, condemned religious bickering and segregation among different religious denominations, saying the trend is retrogressive to youth development.
“When elders quarrel or fight over religious issues, children are immediate victims because we regard other parties as religious inferiors and opponents of God as a result we find ourselves in the cold, fighting or discriminated.
“This habit pushes youth development many steps backwards,” Hassan pointed out.
Reverend, Father Andrew Alban Mhone, Priest at St. Peters Anglican Church in Lilongwe said the Malawi constitution encourages freedom of worship which needs to be embraced by everyone in totality.
“We are one; we worship God or whatever name we call Him, according to language. All these religions available in the country focus their preaching on paradise or life after death, so let’s tolerate each other and coexist peacefully,” he appealed.