Christian, Hindu and Muslim leaders in India have prayed together seeking divine protection for humanity from the Covid-19 pandemic in an online event organized by Cardinal George Alencherry. The cardinal based in Kerala state took the initiative to organize the online program on May 3 as global infections passed 3.5 million with more than 250,000 deaths since last December. Cardinal Alencherry said that when people who trust in God gather and pray, humanity will get much-needed relief. He also thanked leaders of other religions for joining the online inter-religious prayer.The cardinal, head of the Eastern-rite Syro-Malabar Catholic Church based in Kerala, also remembered frontline pandemic fighters such as medical professionals, police personnel, political leaders and state officials. Swami Sadbhavananda, a Hindu leader and head of Shri Ramakrishna Mutt in Kerala, said that as the pandemic spreads across the world, people are disappointed and confused, not knowing what to do.
"We have only one thing to do, that is to pray to God. We need to follow the guidelines issued by the government," he said. Religious texts of all religions say that God knows and sees the world, and he will take care of us all, the Hindu leader said. Another Hindu seer, Sreemadh Vasudevananda Brahmanandhabhooti, chanted a Sanskrit slogan as his prayer that wished welfare and happiness to all the world, considering all humans part of one family. "Through prayers, the world will overcome the calamity," asserted the Hindu leader. Imam Husain Madavoor, a noted Islamic scholar based in Kerala, also joined the prayer program. "We are all living in pain and sadness as Covid-19 has reached all over the world," he said. "A believer has to pray to God for a cure to this disease, but it is not the only thing we need to do. We also need to take medicine and follow the instructions of the government to overcome the current crisis." Cardinal Baselios Mar Cleemis, major archbishop of the Kerala-based Syro Malankara Catholic Church, also joined the prayers. He sought God's pardon for the sins of humanity and urged people to live in harmony and protect the environment. Other Christian leaders like Baselios Marthoma II Catholicos, the head of the Orthodox Church, and Bishop Joseph Mar Gregorios, trustee of the Jacobite Church, also attended the program. Father Antony Thalachelloor, spokesman of the Syro-Malabar Synod, said religious leaders prayed online from their respective locations as they could not come together because of the lockdown. He said Cardinal Alencherry felt such an inter-religious program would help people to come together to invoke the blessing of God in this time of crisis. He released a 45-minute video, which he said aims to share the spirit of the prayers with people of all faiths.
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