CHICAGO, IL: The largest gathering of the Parliament of the World’s Religions was hosted by Chicago at the McCormick Place Lakeside Center from August 14 to 18, 2023. The convention drew a representation of 212 world religions and 95 countries, with religious leaders discussing social issues that plague the planet. The convention aims to bring the world’s religious and spiritual communities together to create a better world. This year’s theme was “A Call to Conscience: Defending Freedom and Human Rights,” and the program began with a colorful parade of faiths.
Anuttama Dasa, the Global Director of Communications for the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, urged world leaders to take responsibility to bring about change. He said, “I would encourage everyone to take advantage of the spirit of this world parliament to look into our hearts and our lifestyles and see how we can minimize the violence in our lives, how we can minimize the tension and the misunderstanding between communities, how we can actually make the kind of personal endeavor, personal sacrifices to benefit others and benefit the planet.“
The sessions featured 120-minute programs such as panel discussions, films, performances, workshops, art exhibits, plenaries, and community service on topics about protecting human rights, climate change, women’s rights, and other social issues.
Subala Dasa, one of the directors of ISKCON Chicago, talked about the contribution of the Parliament of World’s Religions and said that it is providing a spiritual alternative to society’s ailments. He said, “It’s an important work because of the ailments of society, not only here in the United States but the entire world, there is so much conflict.” “In this country, we have issues with equality, with social justice, with women’s rights, violence’. All these ailments can be addressed by spiritual knowledge. Our process is to provide that spiritual education and support to bring about a whole revolution in the consciousness of the people of the day.”
The Sikh community offered a special langar feast to all the attendees, and the program ended with special prayers for the refugees of war and the people of Ukraine.