The vigil was preceded by a candlelight procession from the Frist South Lawn to Murray-Dodge, led by Associate Dean of Religious Life Paul Raushenbush.
“We gather from all over the world from different faith and traditions … to refute this act and instead unite, join together, consider how goodness can be achieved in the world,” he said at the beginning of the procession.
Dean of Religious Life Alison Boden opened the vigil with a sobering warning. “Just when we thought terror had exhausted our imagination as to form and place, it strikes again,” she said. The attacks in Mumbai, she added, “remind us how vulnerable we are.”
“There was not one terrorist attack that killed 174 people,” Rabbi and University Chabad Chaplain Eitan Webb said. “There were 174 individual attacks, each one snuffing out a special life.”
The vigil included student readings of Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Jain, Jewish, Zoroastrian and Muslim prayers.
Princeton Hindu Satsangam's former president Manav Lalwani ’09 told the audience stories about “the Bombay that I know.”
One of the memories he shared was of a New Year’s Eve he had spent in Mumbai with his friends watching fireworks from a hotel balcony overlooking the Arabian Sea.
When he heard about the Mumbai attacks last week, Lalwani said, he thought of this moment.
“Unlike me, the people on that balcony [in the one of the attacked hotels] might not have been able to open their eyes to a new day,” he said. “We owe it to the loss of those people to begin a new day, a new year, a new world.”
In times of suffering, “we take solace in turning to the sovereign of our universe,” Associate Dean of Religious Life Deborah Blanks noted in her closing speech. “We stand with and lean upon each other to hear the heart beat of humanity.”
“May the living God whom we call by many names and who has called us here tonight open our hearts … that terrorism may cease,” Blanks said. “We are one with our brothers and sisters in Mumbai.”
During the vigil, Webb also shared his memories of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, who died after being held hostage in their Chabad House by gunmen during the attacks.
The couple, whom Webb knew personally, “had dreams … to build [a community center] where Jews could be Jewish in India,” he said, praising the couple’s commitment to “putting their own pain aside to build a home for others.”
Co-president of the South Asian Students Association (SASA) Deepika Govind ’10 urged students “to try to understand the complex political situation that breeds such senseless violence.”
The conflict behind the terrorist attacks “cannot be reduced to a political tug-of-war between two countries,” she said. “Mumbai should be an awaking call.”
Students should work to “make this world a better place,” Webb said. “Depression is not an option” in responding to the attacks.
The vigil also featured musical performances by Siddharth Bhaskar ’09, who played the theme from “Bombay” on the veena, an instrument in the lute family, and Dan Berry ’09, who played “Rachamona” on the piano. Blanks also led the audience in singing verses of “We Shall Overcome” in both English and Hindi.
The vigil was sponsored by SASA, the Princeton Hindu Satsangam, the Muslim Students Association, the Office of Religious Life and other campus faith organizations.
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