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Mission of Qatar to the UN Hosts Tea Ceremony

New York, USA - Ambassadors from several nations gathered at the Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the United Nations for an experience of the culture of peace through a traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Tea Master Fumie Watanabe with the help of volunteers and staff from the UPF Office of UN and International Relations conducted the ceremony on Nov. 4, 2009.

Preparations were carefully made to bring in the warm colors of autumn and juxtapose traditional and contemporary elements to illustrate the living spirit of the tea ceremony. Utmost sincerity was invested into every detail of the ceremony. The best water was brought in. The tea powder was meticulously ground to be the finest and fluffiest. The flowers were selected to bring the best of the season into the room and the confections were each hand-picked to give the maximum experience of bitter and sweet.

The tea ceremony was hosted by H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the United Nations in cooperation with the Universal Peace Federation, represented by Mr. Taj Hamad, Director of the Office of UN and International Relations.

Present were the Permanent Representatives H.E. Mr. Madhu Raman Acharya of Nepal, H.E. Mr. Morten Wetland of Norway, H.E. Mr. Vitaly I. Churkin of the Russian Federation, and H.E. Antonio Dos Santos of Paraguay, along with H.E. Kim Won Soo, Deputy Chief de Cabinet of the UN Secretary General’s office. Ms. Mirriam Auma Omala, representative of H.E. Tete Antonio of the African Union, and Hon. Ek Nath Dhakal, Member of the Constituent Assembly and Member of the delegation of Nepal, also attended after he delivered a speech to the General Assembly on global partnerships.

Ms. Kyoko Sato served as the Mistress of Ceremony, guiding guest through the meticulous formalities of the ceremony. Ms. Hanako Ikeno explained the history and significance of tea as guests observed Ms. Watanabe gracefully prepare and serve the tea.

The traditional tea ceremony was created 500 years ago upon the principles of wa (harmony), kei (respect), sei (purity), and jaku (tranquility). Founder, Sen-no-Rikyu developed the ritual as a way for the tea master and guest to honor the sacred meeting between two people according to the Buddhist principles of icho-go ichi-en.

The ambassadors were moved when it was explained that in traditional tea houses, doors are made half size to ensure that all titles, swords and egos are left outside. “In the tea house everyone is an equal guest of the tea master,” Ms. Ikeno explained. The founder placed special emphasis on the sincerity of the master in determining the quality of the tea and the ceremony. Each dignitary took their tea with reverence and fully ingested the peaceful repose in their busy lives. The ceremony concluded with a musical offering of a Japanese song, “Momiji” (Maple Leaves), and a Korean song, “Saranghae” (I Love You). Ambassador Kim’s face lit up at the second song.

After the experience of tea, guests enjoyed a lunch of sushi, compliments of the Mission of Qatar. “It was a beautiful ceremony,” commented Ambassador Kim. H.E. Al Nassir congratulated the volunteers on the peacefulness of the event and invited them to return.

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