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A Visit To Peace Abbey

Parimala Murthy
01/10/2006

The volunteers of Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh, Norwood Chapter, MA recently visited The Peace Abbey in Sherborn, MA, a Multi-Faith Retreat Center as part of the sewa project.  There were six ladies who served Indian Vegetarian lunch. It was a wonderful experience and thanks to Dr. Mrudula Patel who organized it.

The Peace Abbey Administers a school for students with special needs and oversees a group home for adults with disabilities.  The Peace Abbey believes in non-violence and hence it maintains icons and symbols of 12 faiths out of which 4 are from India: Krishna, Buddha, Mahaveer, Gurunanak. There were about 30 people including the staff and organizing committee.  Dot Walsh who is the Program Coordinator welcomed us and Meg Randa one of the Directors also accompanied us for lunch.

It was a very serene and peaceful atmosphere.  Something unique with this place is that they have life size statue of Mahatma Gandhi and they believe in protecting cows, hence they have a statue of a cow as the Animal Rights Memorial.  Another interesting thing with this group is that it is a complete vegetarian group.  They only serve vegetarian food at Peace Abbey.

Dot Walsh lead us to the Peacemakers table and everyone was formally introduced.  After everyone was done introducing themselves, people were allowed to share anything interesting that happened the previous day, or to recognize anyone’s unique contribution.

Everone then participated in another unique ceremony called as ‘The hand washing ceremony’.  A big traditional looking bowl full of water was passed around to wash the hands and the person sitting next to one would wipe the hands.

The group also believes that every soul is spiritually divine and they have another practice of passing touching your heart and passing the vibration by touching the other person’s finger who in turn touches her heart and passes it on to the next person. During the lunchtime, everyone enjoyed the meal.  It also has a museum and the life experience school. 

In addition, the Peace Abbey
  • Offers a sacred environment, which holds the icons, symbols, sculptures and texts of the 12 major faith traditions.
  • Provides conference and retreat space
  • Presents the courage of science award
  • Maintains the pacifist memorial
  • Administers the National Registry for Conscientious Objectors, RATC and greater Boston Vegetarian Library
  • Operates the Veganpeace animal sanctuary
  • Maintains the Guesthouse
  • Provides space for the New England peace studies assn.
  • Sponsors stone walk for unknown civilians killed in war
  • Conducts meditation service
  • Maintains the History Museum
  • Honors Emily the sacred cow with the Animal Rights Memorial

(Parimala Murthy is Co-ordinator of women's activities, Hindu Swayamsevak Sangh. )

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