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Celebrate the spirit of Nowruz, the International Day of Happiness, and World Earth Day in Lithuania.

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UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is shown addressing a special event at UN Headquarters in New York to celebrate the International Day of Nowruz. This event was -organized by the Permanent Missions of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, India, Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan and celebrated on March 20. UN Photo/Evan Schneider.

In a statement made by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the International Day of Nowruz, the Secretary-General said the following: “I think we all recognize that nothing in our world is more important than the spirit of Nowruz. When we see all the conflicts around the world. When we see the plight of migrants and refugees. When we see the rise of xenophobia and racism in many parts of the world.”

As the Secretary-General explained, “it is clear that we all need the spirit of Nowruz and the world needs the spirit of Nowruz in order to be able to allow for peace and for justice and for understanding and for the capacity to have mutual respect and the capacity to bring together the population of this world around the most noble values.”

Pictured are several beautiful decorations shown at the special Nowruz event held at the United Nations in New York UN Photo/Evan Schneider.

Recently at UN Headquarters in New York, an Art Exhibition of Paintings for Happiness sponsored by the Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of Bhutan to the United Nations was on display at UN Headquarters in NewYork on March 20.

Although this year there was no official UN Peace Bell ringing on March 20 to mark Earth Day on the Equinox. a speaker on Happiness did point out that it was a tradition at the UN to ring the bell twice a year, on International Earth Day (Earth Day on the Equinox), March 20 or 2l, and on the International Day of Peace (September 22). World Environment Day will be celebrated at the United Nations on June 5

Making a statement at the International Day of Happiness was Aye Aye Thant, daughter of UN Secretary-General U Thant, and President of the U Thant Institute. Aye Aye presented a painting done by her granddaughter to the organizers of the exhibit which highlighted children’s art work. On March 20, l97l, Aye Aye Thant’s father, UN Secretary-General U Thant, rang the UN Peace Bell in a ceremony initiated by John McConnell, the founder of the first Earth Day, and this bell-ringing tradition has continued for decades at UN Headquarters in New York.

With the UN Peace Bell in view opposite the exhibition inspired by the Kingdom of Bhutan, a selection of prints by renowned artist, Sri Chinmoy was on display. In addition, there were images of “Kids To Kids” happiness paintings by children from around the world. As Sri Chinmoy put it, “the children of happiness will create a new world.” The exhibit was set up in cooperation with Jharna-Kala Art Foundation and Sri Chinmoy Center, NGO.

Elsewhere, Earth Day on the spring equinox was celebrated in Kaunas, Lithuania on March 20, 2018. Father Kestutis at Vytautas Magnus Church rang the bell three times followed by a Minute for Peace. This is a moment of silent prayer, meditation, o rreflection for peace, justice, and care of earth. Izolda Geniusiene, wife of the late Algis Tomas Geniusas, the
President of the United Nations Association of Lithuania (UNA-Lithuania) for l7 years, contacted Father Kestutis to ring church bells in Kaunas, Lithuania. Jurate Landsbergyte is the Executive Director of UNA-Lithuania based in Vilnius.

In Vilnius, the capital of Lithuania, bells also rang on March 20 (Earth Day on the Equinox) Pictured here is Klaudia Merkelis, a young Lithuanian student at Vilniaus “Sietuvos” Progimnazia ringing a bell to celebrate Earth Day on the Equinox in Vilnus. Photo: Gitana Merkeliene.

As stated jn an Earth Day Proclamation originally issued by Vytautas Landsbergis, President of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania in l992, “Nature has provided on the March equinox, a global symbol of life’s renewal and a reminder of the delicate balance of
nature, essential for our survival. On Earth Day, March 20, the first day of spring, the United Nations Peace Bell will ring and proclaim our commitment to humanity and Planet Earth, only be saved through a global effort involving all of us.”

In the year l992, at UN Headquarters in New York, the first Permanent Representative of the Republic of Lithuania in New York, Anicetas Simutis, the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Latvia in NewYork, Aivars Baumanis, and Counsellor Paul Luedig, representing the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Estonia, Ernst Jaakson represented the Baltic States at the bell-ringing ceremony on Earth Day.

In addition, Joseph Ciccipio former hostage in Beirut, Lebanon rang the UN Peace Bell on the same date, as well.

This year, according to Joanne Tawfilis, co-founder/Executive Director, the Art Miles Mural Project, and Owner, Muramid Mural Museum and Art Center in San Diego, California, bells were expected to ring in many countries around the world on March 20, 2018.

In a tribute to John McConnell, who held the first Earth Day in the City of San Francisco, California on March 2l, 1970. Earth Day was commemorated at the United Nations for the first time on March 20, 197l. At this event initiated by John McConnell, the founder of Earth Day and co-founder of the Earth Society Foundation, the UN Peace Bell was rung by UN Secretary-General U Thant.

According to Joanne, here’s a list of bell-ringing countries around the world for 2018: Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Abu Dhabi, Hungary, Japan, Tanzania, Liberia, France, Pakistan, India, Belgium, Afghanistan, Kenya, Ghana, Uganda, Senegal, Russia, Greece, the Philippines. Eritrea, China, South Korea, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Grand Cayman Islands, Germany, Slovenia, Bosnia Herzegovina, Czech Republic, Turkey, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Denmark, London, England, New Zealand, and Italy.

In addition, bells were expected to ring on Earth Day in Bangladesh, Canada, South Africa, Peru, Chile, Uruguay. Namibia, Sweden, Slovakia, Beirut, Lebanon, Austria, Mexico, Samoa, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Fiji. Joanne Tawfilis, a Member of the US National Commission to UNESCO and Member of the UNA-USA Board in San Diego, has reported an enthusiastic response to bell ringing around the world in 2018.

Ann Charles
Ann Charles is UN Bureau Chief of "Baltic Review" based in New York City. She covers diplomatic activities at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the world body's work in human rights, education, culture, the environment, and tourism, among other global concerns.

Lithuanian-American Ann Charles was awarded a Silver Medal of Merit from Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania

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