In an atmosphere of communal tensions and social divides, progress and unity suffers the most. This is an enormous challenge for the world. Close-knit communities are divided on the basis of faith, social strata, landlords and farmers, family feuds and social misunderstanding. The Art of Living Foundation has proved to be a significant bridge between these estranged communities.
By bringing together individuals of all backgrounds through stress-elimination programmes and community gatherings, religious and social differences are brought down.
When riots started between Hindus and Muslims in Gujarat, India in 2002, trained volunteers of the Art of Living Foundation carried out stress relief and trauma care in the worst affected areas. The Art of Living volunteers worked with the local community leaders to restore harmony among people from different communities.
The Foundation is also working to end discrimination on the basis of birth and provide equal opportunity to all. In March 2007, the Foundation initiated the ‘Truth and Reconciliation’ conference to bring together decision makers, leaders and representatives of mainstream and the Dalit communities. The outcome was a seven-point action plan which is being implemented at the grassroots level. In many areas, estranged communities have come together in unprecedented gestures, paving the way for a socially progressive community.
Through the 5H Programme, the Art of Living Foundation has made a significant impact in volatile areas of the North East of India, which has witnessed violence and militancy for over two decades. Youth leaders are not only helping to rebuild the infrastructure in these areas, but also bridging the divides between strained communities.
Satsangs (Community Celebrations)
As a continuation of our stress relief and trauma relief programmes, youth volunteers conduct satsangs (community celebrations) on a regular basis in villages. There are so many divides in every community – such as racial, cultural, lingual and religious. Satsangs act as a community-building exercise where people from the entire community come together, regardless of age, race, culture. This is the time when the pressures and strains of daily struggles are dropped and people immerse themselves in laughter, music, meditation and dance. Whether it is in a community hall, in the fields, in a shed or around a tree – satsangs are an occasion that uplifts the entire community. It creates and enlivens a sense of belongingness and community spirit in all the participants.
Reviving Human Values
Children participate and have a sense of community and belongingness from a young age. It’s a space where people are accepted and uplifted no matter who they are. A progressive society is nurtured and values of sharing and caring are revived. Human values dawn throughout the community through regular satsang. The community is infused with a spirit of celebration by bringing people together in joy and harmony.
Starting Community Welfare Projects
People find a forum where they can share their problems and find solutions with their friends and neighbours. Community projects introduced within this space are collectively taken up with enthusiasm and zest. This is one of the key aspects of the 5H programme. Satsangs uphold the spirit of the individuals and also helps them feel responsible for their community. . This in turn uplifts the entire community and in the end we have a diverse but harmonious society where people lead a stress-free, healthy and happy life.