UNICEF India reaches out to multi-faith leaders to emphasize solidarity during the COVID global pandemic

New Delhi: The coronavirus pandemic has emerged as an unprecedented public health challenge that continues to severely impact every country across the globe, including India. The impact of the pandemic is far reaching and has gone beyond just being a health emergency.

Public health emergencies such as COVID -19 lead to fear and anxiety that gives rise to stress, violence and stigma. The need of the hour is solidarity, kindness, cooperation and support towards each other.

“In times of humanitarian crisis, faith can be a powerful sustaining force. Faith leaders play a critical role in influencing values, attitudes, behaviours and actions that affect the development and wellbeing of the world’s children. The need of the hour is solidarity and compassion. Let us only look at facts and not misinformation. Let us be supportive of each other and observe social distancing. We are reaching out to leaders across faiths for their support to ensure that the most vulnerable women and children are supported, and their rights protected at this crucial time”, said Dr. Yasmin Ali Haque, Representative, UNICEF India.

Faith traditions can play a critical role in containing the spread of the disease and helping people cope with its fallout. By focusing on spiritual calmness and inner serenity, faith leaders have an important role in urging followers to take the necessary precautions to protect oneself, society and community in accordance with government directives.

UNICEF urges faith-based welfare organizations to:

To honour national health authorities’ guidance on public gatherings, physical distancing and other critical matters of public health
Focus on hygiene and sanitation in keeping with religious teachings and sacred texts that emphasize cleanliness as an element of holiness.
Counter all forms of stigma and discrimination with active promotion of attitudes and behaviours to uphold the principles of love that are central to all religions and the dignity and rights of all people.
Provide spiritual and emotional care and support for parents, children, the elderly and those experiencing disruption and distress during the pandemic.
· Stand united in hope and solidarity for the survival, protection and development of our children, families and communities.

Quotes from Faith Leaders

Swami Chidanand Saraswati, President, Parmarth Niketan and Founder of Ganga Action Parivar, Co-founder, Global Interfaith Wash Alliance

It’s heartening to note that faith leaders are lending their voice to spread the message of togetherness and unity in times of crisis. All health workers, media professionals are all working tirelessly to support humanity. So help them to help you. Stay at home. We are getting to know that violence in the home is increasing a lot in this time. Instead of turning to violence, let us support each other in the home and share the work in the household with love, especially in spending time with and looking after our children who can also get scared and anxious during this time. It is time to spread love and kindness and work together. This is the time to be peaceful and meditate. People are also getting swayed by misinformation and I urge them to only follow government instructions and guidelines.

Maulana Mahmood Madani, Secretary-General, Jamiat Ulema E Hind

“At this time when humanity is under threat, we want to stand behind in full support of all our health workers. It is a shame that we are assaulting health workers. This is not the spirit of our country. To protect yourself and to protect your community is each one of our duty. It is sin, haram if any of us do not follow the rules and do not practice social distancing or observe lockdown. It should not be that because of our selfishness or carelessness we risk our lives or lives of others. Let us be loving in our homes and in our communities.”

Father Paul, Executive Director, Caritas India

“Stay at home. Keep Social Distancing. Social Distancing is the best medicine to address this pandemic. Comply with all advisories given by Government authorities. And go with the principle that do no harm to anyone. We are all one family – vasudaivakutumbakam. We are inspired and motivated by our faith. But, faith without action has no meaning. We see god in the lives of those people who are sick and ailing with corona and with people on the street who are suffering. Service to humanity is service to god – ManavaSeva hi Madhava Seva.”

Maulana Anisur Rahman, Imarat Sharia, Patna

“Precaution is necessary to avoid spreading the epidemic. People should offer Namaz at home, maintain social distance and strictly follow the government advisories.”

Sudershan Maharaj, Atma Kalyan Kendra, Patna

“This is the time of crisis, this is also time to come closer to our family. By staying at home, helping family members and maintaining social distance we are contributing to our nation being safe.”

Shri Mahant Divyagiri, Mankameshwar Math Mandir, Lucknow

“Humanity is above all religions, let us all come together to protect it from the pandemic disease COVID -19.”

Reverend Father Ostwald Lewis, Bishop of Jaipur

“On the auspicious Easter Friday, we recall how Jesus crucified himself to give us freedom. His crucification was a symbol of sacrifice, forgiveness and love. Today as we fight the Coronavirus, feeling lonely and not being heard by the Almighty we need to stay at home, stay safe and stay healthy while practicing social distancing and handwashing. We will pray for all who have been affected by the virus so that they can overcome the virus. We will also pray for the safety of all health care providers and other functionaries who are helping to fight the battle and will also pray for the government who has been so sincerely and dedicatedly fighting the battle for the people of Rajasthan.”

Anwar Shah, Director, Al Jamea Tul Aalyah, Jaipur

“The corona virus disease or COVID-19 outbreak has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). COVID-19 is an infectious disease and the frequency of confirmed COVID-19 cases are increasing day by day. Keeping this in mind, I have a humble request for you all: As you know that ShabeBara’at is a very precious and holy night where we seek from Allah, SubhanahuWata’ala’s meaning the mercy for any transgression or Sins. I am appealing to all of you that on this important day and night, please offer special prayers, observe fasting, recite Holy Qur’an and perform other religious rituals from your home only. Kindly do not venture out to burial places or visit Mosques to protect yourself and others from the Coronavirus. We should not become the cause of someone’s death. As this area is under Section 144 and curfew owing to positive case of COVID-19, it is my appeal to please support to the Government, Administration and Health Department by staying at home and practicing social distancing. And follow the instructions in this Divine day and night as well. I am certain that together we can fight Coronavirus. Inshallah.”

Anant Shri Vibhushit Shri Swami Sampata kumar Awadheshcharya Ji Maharaj, Peethadhiswar Shri Galta Gaddi, Jaipur, Rajasthan

“Till now due to Corona Virus, people have been responding well to the government’s directive to stay at home, to be safe. This has helped people and they are benefitting out of it too as they practice social distancing. In the month of Vaishak, there are several auspicious days such as Akshaya Tritiya and Ramanuj Acharyaji Jayanti. These will be commemorated like earlier times at the temple. I will request you all to please stay at your homes and celebrate these auspicious days as this will ensure safety for all of us. We can offer our prayers but only from the confines of our homes. You all need to understand that the Almighty is all pervasive and his offerings are being made in all the temples and only the visitors are not being allowed in temples so that we can be at homes and respect the Government’s guidance on this.”

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