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Tribute to Raimon Panikkar

Tribute to Raimon Panikkar

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On the 14th of February a tribute to the philosopher Raimon Panikkar was held at the Saló de Cent of the Barcelona Town Hall in recognition of his career and intellectual relevance. The event was starred by different personalities, politicians and people within Panikkar's closest circle, and was organised by the Barcelona City Council, Casa Asia, the Vivarium-Raimon Panikkar Foundation and Fragmenta Editorial.

The tribute was led by the journalist Helena García Melero, and included several presentations, from Artur Mas or Jordi Hereu, to Jordi Pigem or Milena Carrara, as well as musical performances by Jordi Savall and Montserrat Figueras and by the zither and violin players Bhakti Das and Griselda Cos.

The Mayor of Barcelona Jordi Hereu made one of the first presentations, and wanted to express the suitability of paying this tribute at the Saló de Cent of the Town Hall: “This is a wonderful space to pay tribute to a person who helps the different identities of people who live in a city such as Barcelona and in a country such as Catalonia”. The President of the Generalitat Artur Mas highlighted the simplicity of the event, as well as its greatness, qualities also attributed to Panikkar. According to him, Panikkar "was a man of dialogue and dialogues in plural, among different cultures, East and West, North and South".

Xavier Melloni, from the Faculty of Theology of Catalonia, highlighted the virtues of Raimon Panikkar, who “was a master for many of us, with his effort for integration, and showed that religion is ternary, with a rising movement, from words to facts and to silence. He showed us that we can be citizens of the world, that all human causes are not insane”. Jordi Pigem, from the University of Barcelona, focused on some of Panikkar's beliefs: “Only the mystics will survive, this mystic person is open to the world, the earth and the sky and open to all the opportunities we come accross everyday”. Amador Vega, from the University Pompeu Fabra, talked about his yearning: “I think that what I will miss the most of Raimon Panikkar are his hugs, I think I will remember them forever”, as well as the importance of silence, compiled in his book El silencio del Buda. For Joseph Prabhu, from the University of California, Panikkar “was a friend, philosopher and representative in the parliament of religions”. Moreover, Prabhu highlighted that for the philosopher, “the purpose was the understanding of the others”, affirming that “he had an integrated personality, he was a teacher, a mystic, a friend and he had dignity of age”.

Milena Carrara, President of the Vivarium Foundation, on the other hand, is making the effort of compiling and spreading the work and thought of Raimon Panikkar.

The tribute had a special guest, Raimon Panikkar's sister, Mercè. She went through her brother's and family's life, as well as his intelligence: “Raimon was educated at the Jesuits, highly gifted and won all the possible awards. Our mother was proud of him, but Raimon wouldn't take any notice". The journalist Antoni Bassas, on the other hand, was a guest from the United States and talked about how charming Panikkar is, “because he liked silence and he also liked seeing the effect his words caused on people, which is why he used to refuse to go to the radio because he couldn't see people”.

Mari Àngels Simón, a regular reader of Raimon Panikkar, also wanted to contribute in the tribute event to the philosopher: “I feel lucky to have met him, because of his simplicity and validity as a thinker. We were lucky to taste the sparks we felt while we held the sessions. I would like to appreciate everyone who enjoyed his friendship and that thanks to him were inspired to follow their path as an inter-religious dialogue”. Montserrat Ferré, another reader and lover of Raimon Panikkar, thanked his source of knowledge which involved his books and character: “Thanks Raimon, I think of you, your smile is present, our chats in your house, your advice that opened gaps of light in moments of darkness. You showed us books, El silencio del Buda, which I found hard to understand at first, but is now a source of knowledge”.

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