World Gratitude Day1/The United Nations Meditation Group celebrated World Gratitude Day twice in 1977 — once on 12 September in a special programme in the United Nations Secretariat for delegates and staff; and again on 21 September in World Gratitude Days New York Headquarters when the Group's Director, Sri Chinmoy, was honoured at official ceremonies. The plaque, presented to him by Mrs. Edna Lemle, president and founder of the organisation, dedicated to promoting the cause of world-wide gratitude, cited Sri Chinmoy for having "enhanced the spirit of globalism with his compassion, his creativity and nobility of spirit." The first 21 September World Gratitude Day celebration was held thirteen years ago.In 1977, citations were presented to nine religious leaders and representatives of organisations. Among others recognised were the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, whose Director, Dr J Ottley, came from Salt Lake City for the ceremony; Judith Hollister, founder of the Interfaith Temple of Understanding; Dr. Russell Barber, producer of the NBC television programme "The First Estate", and Rabbi Sally Prisend, the first woman in American Judaism to attain the ranks of the clergy. Past awards have been given to UNICEF (as an organisation) and to former General Assembly President Angie Brooks Randolph.
Following are the texts from both programmes, which included music and the performance by the United Nations Meditation Group singers of a song by Sri Chinmoy dedicated to World Gratitude Day./
Mrs Edna Lemle, President, World Gratitude Day: Welcome, Sri Chinmoy, Mr Muller, Mrs de Sola Pool, Kevin Keefe, the United Nations Meditation Group and all you good people who have come here to help us herald World Gratitude Day. I will begin by asking Sri Chinmoy to stand here as he did before and get everyone into the mood which is the absolute essence of Gratitude Day.
[Sri Chinmoy meditates facing the audience.]
Now look inward and find something to be grateful for and remember this feeling. Now open yourself up and share this emotion with everyone here. Know that everyone in this room is sharing the same emotion… I feel it! It surges though the room… Thank you. This is the basis of the day.
On 21 September gather together some friends and observe Gratitude Day by repeating this with them, it can be a simple gathering or an elaborate party, depending upon how you would like to do it. The important part is that each one gives thanks in his own way. To whom and for what is for each personal and private. It is the essential emotion that should be universally shared.
The official beginning of this world holiday was in 1965 at the East-West Center in Hawaii where a Thanksgiving Dinner was held for ninety Grantees who came for the most part from Oriental countries. We discussed the need for a globally unifying holiday and everyone was thrilled with my idea of Gratitude Day. Each person in the room pledged, therefore, to hold a Gratitude Gathering the following 21 September, when they returned to their own countries. That was the beginning. And since then Gratitude Day has been observed all over the world.
Each year the Board of Directors of World Gratitude Day presents an award to someone who we feel has done something outstanding in the spirit of globalism. In the past we have honoured such distinguished individuals as Angie Brooks Randolph, first woman president of the United Nations General Assembly, Maurice Strong of Canada and the Nobel Prize Laureate, Rene Cassin. In addition we have honoured UNICEF and Japan, which, incidentally, was the first country to declare World Gratitude Day a national day of thanksgiving.
And so, I am most pleased to present this year's World Gratitude Day Award to Sri Chinmoy, who is most deserving of this honour:
WORLD GRATITUDE DAY is pleased to honour SRI CHINMOY who has enhanced the spirit of globalism with his compassion, his creativity and his great nobility;
Whose being and achievements reflect the spirit of our Proclamation:
WHEREAS, humanity has come to recognise devotion and allegiance to immediate family, to clan, to city, to state, and to nation, and now must experience the concept of globalism; and
WHEREAS, words of praise and positive thoughts generate dynamic harmony, and
WHEREAS, decisions made from a grateful heart are endowed with intrinsic wisdom and engender prosperity; and
WHEREAS, gratitude, the opposite of "taking for granted," is a positive emotion which generates good will, is a basic emotion which is indigenous to all people, is a peace-engendering feeling;
AND WHEREAS, September 21 is a special day. It is an equinox: one of the two times of the year when the sun passes over the equator and night and day are everywhere of equal length and everyone is equal under the sun;
THEREFORE let us proclaim World Gratitude Day, a holiday for all peoples, a day of meditation for all religions, a day of celebration for all humanity, united by knowledge of simultaneously shared emotion, a day when triumph of the spirit can make a world community.
Sri Chinmoy, I think the world should be grateful to people like you. I am honoured to give you this award.
Sri Chinmoy: I am accepting this with my heart's boundless gratitude, and this gratitude is something that is glowing and growing within me. Every day I offer to the Beloved Supreme only one thing: gratitude.
Man's greatest gift to God is gratitude. Man's self-giving and his gratitude are one and the same.
I am extremely grateful to you, Mrs. Lemle, for you are opening a new chapter in humanity's evolution. The world is in the process of evolution. You know the utmost significance of gratitude, and the awakened soul in you is awakening others. Gratitude is man's conscious oneness with his Beloved Supreme. I am sure that your soul has felt this supreme oneness with the Beloved Supreme and your soul has come to the fore to urge your illumined mind to offer this loftiest message to the world at large.
Gratitude in the inner world is nothing but self-expansion. It is through self-expansion that we become aware of our true reality, which is Infinity itself. Your contribution to the world at large, to the inner world especially, is momentous. As a seeker, I know that there is nothing on earth as valuable and significant as gratitude. In God's Eye there is nothing more meaningful and precious than man's gratitude. Therefore, to you, to the illumining soul in you, I wish to offer my boundless and ever-growing gratitude.
SM 13. World Gratitude Day, New York Headquarters, Dag Hammarskjold Auditorium, 12 September 1977↩