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The first World’s Parliament of Religions was held in Chicago in 1893 in conjunction with the World Columbian Exposition – a precursor to later World’s Fairs. On the occasion of the 100 year anniversary, another Parliament was again held in Chicago in 1993.

I was lucky enough to attend that 1993 anniversary Parliament and was present in the audience when my meditation teacher Sri Chinmoy offered an opening meditation for the Parliament. Watch it here:

Since this 1993 centenary, Parliaments have been held every five years. This year’s event has been underway from December 3-9, 2009 in Melbourne.  I am acquainted with some of the presenters at this year’s Parliament because the International Sri Chinmoy Centres held various events at the Parliament as well as off-site.

What is the 2009 Parliament of World’s Religions all about? From the FAQ on the Parliament’s website:

Since 1993, a Parliament of the World’s Religions has convened every five years in a major international city (Chicago 1993, Cape Town 1999, Barcelona 2004). Sponsored by the Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions, the 2009 Parliament will take place in Melbourne, Australia. A multi-religious, multi-lingual, and multicultural city, Melbourne offers an ideal location for the 2009 Parliament. Culturally vibrant and global in vision, Melbourne and Victoria are home to indigenous and Aboriginal spiritualities as well as the major world religions – Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Sikhism among others. Over 10,000 participants will come to Melbourne for the Parliament. The 2009 Parliament will turn worldwide attention to Melbourne as a destination city with international appeal. The Parliament will run for seven days with approximately 450 events including keynote addresses, seminars, conferences, debates, performances, concerts and exhibitions.

This year in Melbourne you can glimpse the multifaceted events of the 2009 program on their official website, complete with video, photos and news.

Related: Sri Chinmoy meditates at the Barcelona Parliament in 2004 (video).