In a remarkable interfaith gesture, various religions got together in Reno (Nevada, USA) to celebrate the ringing in of the New Year at midnight in a unique and divine manner, away from the glitter of the casinos and sending a message of unity to the world. Coordinated by religious statesman Rajan Zed, standing room only “Multi-faith New Year’s Eve Service” hosted by Reno Buddhist Center included Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i and Native American prayers.

Religious leaders who prayed included United Church of Christ pastor James Kosko, Abdul Raheem Barghouti of Muslim community, Buddhist priests Matthew T. Fisher and Shelley L. Fisher, Jewish rabbi ElizaBeth Webb Beyer, Hindu leader Rajan Zed, Monique Jacobs of Roman Catholic Diocese, Baha’i teacher Kaitie R. Lighthart and American Indian spirituality scholar Brian E. Melendez. In addition, Taiko drumming ensemble Tsurunokai Taiko directed by Rieko Shimbo delivered Japanese festival piece Chichibu Yatai-bayashi; Jim R. Eaglesmith sang multi-faith musical medley; Spirit Singers headed by Leslie Alice Fudge performed “Dona Nobis Pacem”; while Laurie Martin lead a team of drummers.

There was no “cover charge” for this Service where all were welcome and which ended with drum beats and ringing of bells. Guests signed a banner with a pledge for peace, love and unity in 2016.

Prayers were a more appropriate way to welcome the New Year to our lives than gambling and drinking in the casinos and bars. Moreover, despite our seriously different faith traditions, diverse religions coming together in prayer and community sent a message of love, hope and harmony for 2016 world; Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, pointed out on the occasion.