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5th SSEASR Conference successfully held in Manila/Philippines
By Reinhard Hohler, Chiang Mai
Under the theme “Healing, belief systems, cultures and religions of South and Southeast Asia” the 5th South and Southeast Asian Association for the Study of Culture and Religion (SSEASR) Conference was successfully held in Manila on May 16-19, 2013, hosted by the prestigious and more than 400 years old University of Santo Tomas (UST).
Some 140 registered delegates and participants from 23 countries attended the opening ceremony at the Thomas Aquinas Research Complex, when Rector Friar Herminio Dagohoy from the UST, actually the oldest university in Asia, highlighted healing with the help of belief and faith, as well as the role of alternative medicine. Also, SSEASR President Dr. Amarjiva Lochan, University of Delhi, welcomed all the members of the ever-increasing extended family that makes up the association since the year 2000.
After the former SSEASR conferences in New Delhi (2005), Bangkok (2007), Bali (2009), and Bhutan (2011), Manila was chosen to be the venue for this year’s 5th conference that saw a key-note address of Senator Edgardo Angara from the Republic of the Philippines, who predicted that Southeast Asia will be the most dynamic bloc in Asia, especially when there is the creation of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) at the end of 2015, covering 600 million people.
The 5th conference also saw three plenary sessions and seven parallel sessions held, all within four days, when a myriad of interesting papers were read. Only some of the most outstanding ones can be mentioned here:
1. Miss Akiko Hirata (Japan): Yao belief and concepts of illness among ethnic inter-relationships in Lao PDR, emphasizing a mixture of ancestor worship and animism.
2. Dr. Lilian J. Sison (Philippines): Religion and the UST Peace Project in Mindanao, emphasizing the conflict between Christians and Muslims.
3. Dr. Hermann Gruenwald (Germany): Spirituality and Impact on Business, especially in Thailand.
4. Dr. Sikhamoni Konwar Gohain Boruah (India): Chak-long as the marriage festival of the Ahom of Assam.
5. Dr. Linda S. Mcintosh (USA): The Chulakathin Festival in Thailand, emphasizing the rites in two villages in Chiang Rai and Mukdahan.
6. Emeritus Professor Dr. Anthony R. Walker (Sri Lanka): The animistic premises of sickness and death among the Lahu people of the Yunnan-Northern Southeast Asian borderland.
7. Dr. Sophana Srichampa (Thailand): Multifaceted roles of religions and beliefs in Thailand, especially in the time of globalization.
8. Professor Asanga Tilakaratne (Sri Lanka): Buddhist protective chanting (paritta) as a means of healing, when the trust of the listener is necessary.
9. Mr. Erond Litno Damanik (Indonesia): Kemkem as the traditional healing of bone fractures by the Karo Batak in Northern Sumatra.
10. Professor Tetsuya Taguchi (Japan): Healing by religious rock and roll, introducing the song “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison.
On the social side, there was a hearty and entertaining welcome dinner on the first night after a guided tour through the campus, while a city tour in the afternoon of the third day through Manila highlighted the UST Museum, San Agustin Stone Church and Fort Santiago at Intramuros, Dr. Rizal Monument at Roxas Boulevard, and SMX Shopping Complex at Manila Bay, as well as a farewell dinner at Aristocrat, an old restaurant since the year 1936.
Most of the international participants were accommodated by the centrally-located Traders Hotel, which is one of the most luxury hotels in Manila.
Finally, during the closing ceremony in the morning of May 19, it was revealed that the next 6th SSEASR Conference will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka in early 2015. Needless to say that the organization of the conference was perfectly planned and done, including a voluntary pre- and post tour for the participants thanks to the tireless and ever-energetic SSEASR President Dr. Amarjiva Lochan.
For further information, please visit: www.sseasr.org
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