- Haadia Galely on Voices for Peace 2022
During these unprecedented times, a concert preaching unity and hope is just what we need. “Voices for Peace” will be held on 27 February featuring Buddhist Ensemble directed by Manoj Sujeewa, Hindu Ensemble directed by Soundarie David Rodrigo, St. Joseph’s Choir directed by Francis D’ Almedia, and the Muslim Choral Ensemble of Sri Lanka directed by Manoj Sujeewa and Haadia Galely.
The concert “Voices for Peace” was founded by Haadia Galely in partnership with Shangri-La Colombo. In conversation with Brunch, she told us that the purpose of producing this concert was in memory of lives lost during the Easter attacks on 21 April 2019.
“The idea behind it was to unify all communities in an effort to try and understand, convey, or find ways to restore or deal with the aftermath of 21 (April 2019) that was condoned by none and mourned by all,” she stated.
She also revealed that last year she had thoughts about ending the brand; as her source of strength and support, former Shangri-La Colombo General Manager Timothy Wright was moved to Indonesia so there was a change in management. While she was contemplating on her decision to end plans for the brand, she was introduced to Dhamma Centre (Essex, UK) Founder Ven. Hokandara Pannavamsa Thera to share the status of Co-Founder for the launch of the World Interfaith Choral Ensemble (WICE). This gave her the motivation she needed to keep going and grow. She also added that the WICE is a work in progress, which they will get to once they have concluded Voice for Peace 2.
The main aim behind Voice of Peace, Galely told us, is to launch a community platform created to celebrate and inspire interaction between people of different faiths globally in order to create a better understanding of each other based on recognising our similarities and respecting our differences. She explained what they hope to achieve through these objectives, stating: “We aim to instil self-respect, unity, and a curiosity to learn through shared humanity which can be achieved by working together – which in our case is using music as a platform for peace.”
We asked her if she thinks this concert could help promote unity amongst Sri Lankans and create a better understanding despite their faiths and beliefs. “Interfaith understanding strengthens the idea that, regardless of religion or religious traditions, every human being deserves to be loved and respected – where friendships and connections with people from diverse backgrounds, cultures, and beliefs are strengthened,” she expressed.
When talking about how preparations for the concert are going so far, she told us that it is very heartening to have associates and artistes from 2019 coming forward this year too to contribute to the event, along with other new names who are being featured. “It’s our goal to create WICE to pan out into a global brand, by encouraging international artists representing multi-denominational faith groups to join us,” she commented, adding that this platform is richly personal and intensely passionate to her and that she will do her best to promote it.
Talking more about what she hopes to achieve with the concert, she shared: “Our mission starts and ends where harmony meets humanity in a space created to develop a deep sense of understanding not only of one’s own journey of faith but also to help forge friendships between people from other backgrounds.” In her opinion, this will work as a platform to create a foundation that breaks stereotypes and misunderstandings stemming from a lack of knowledge and misconceptions.
Once the event is wrapped up and concluded, Galely plans on looking at ways and means of conducting programmes at grassroot levels. She commented that changing the mindset of adults is nearly impossible as they have fixed notions and beliefs, but having said that, discrimination against minorities is an aspect we need to slowly but surely eliminate. “I want to work with Rotaract and Interact clubs because these are influencers and youth who will go out there and encourage the younger generation especially where racial discrimination is of concern,” she stated, adding that it will not be an overnight change, but that if they stick to their beliefs and passions, progress will occur.