The Words of the Kittel Family
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia -- Silent tears spoke of the unforgettable love and heartfelt affection of family members and close friends of all three "Malaysian icons" whose lives were celebrated at the Legacy of Peace program in Kuala Lumpur on June 30.
Tan Sri Senator Dr. Koh Tsu Koon, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, used this honorific to express deepest respect and admiration to the Malaysians honored on the occasion: Ven. K. Dhammanada, Dato' Razali bin Ismail, and Sri Sangaratna R. Thiagaraja. In addition, three international Ambassadors for Peace were honored.
Interfaith prayers from seven religious traditions set the spirit of "One Malaysia" that filled the Ashok Hall. Building on this, Senator Koh told the 350 participants, "We must move beyond mere tolerance. We must accept, respect, and even celebrate our diversity."
The Legacy of Peace program commemorates and celebrates the life and work of notable Ambassadors for Peace. This series began at the United Nation in New York, USA on March 18 of this year and similar programs are being held around the world. The event in Kuala Lumpur was organized by the Universal Peace Federation in partnership with the Malaysia Hindu Sangam (sangam is a Sanskrit word meaning confluence).
At the UN event, the Founder of UPF explained the meaning and purpose of holding Legacy of Peace programs. "The moment we enter the spirit world," Rev. Dr. Sun Myung Moon explained, "is the time that we enter a world of joy and victory with the fruits born of our lives on earth. It is a time for those of us remaining on earth to send off the departed with tears of joy." Dr. Robert S. Kittel, Director of Education for UPF-Asia, read excerpts from the Founder's Address.
"It was a deeply moving experience," said Tan Sri Dr. Devaki Krishnan, Deputy President of UPF-Malaysia and Chairwoman of the organizing committee, reflecting back on the program. At the beginning of the event, her Welcome Address thanked the Malaysia Hindu Sangam for its support and the Buddhist Maha Vihara for the use of their facilities.
Master of Ceremony, Dr. John Gurusamy from the Interfaith Network, recited poetry from memory (The Sands of Time) and artfully guided the two and a half hour program.
After flower tributes were place at the photos of each of the six honorees, memorial citations were given about the three Malaysians honored.
Mr. Sirisena Perera spoke about Ven. K. Dhammanada. He described Ven. Dhammanada's passion for Buddhism, his irreplaceable literary works, and his love for this adopted country. "He was a Sri Lankan by birth but a Malaysian by choice."
Mr. Wan Harun b. Mohammad highlighted the life of Dato' Razali bin Ismail. Razali Ismail was an educator-turned-politician who "epitomized the true meaning of what wakil rayat (a representative of the people) is all about."
Dato' A. Vithilalingam spoke of Sri Sangaratna R. Thiagaraja's legacy. He lived his life by the simple motto, "Service above self." His wife, children, and grandson were attending the program.
The musical group Salam opened and concluded evening. The golden voices of the men's quartet mesmerized the audience with "Welcome to Peace" at the beginning of the program and a Tamil song, "Light of Peace," at the end. In the middle of the Legacy of Peace ceremony, an all-girls Hindu choir, Laasya Arts, dressed in beautiful saris, enthralled listeners with their song, "Depth of Peace."
At the close of the program, all were invited to dinner, experiencing once again the heart of becoming "One Family Under God."