Diaspora

Indy Festival of Faiths: Embracing Religious Diversity

BALBIR SINGH | September 25, 2019 03:37 PM

INDIANAPOLIS: The 7th Annual Indy Festival of Faiths was a 'sangam' (confluence)  of many cultures and religious traditions. Organized by Center for Interfaith Cooperation at Veterans Memorial Plaza, Downtown, Indianapolis, the Religious Diversity festival attracted a large number of visitors and participants from all major religions of the world and interfaith communities.
Wisdom of Vedas, Sikh Satsang Indianapolis, Jain Center of Central Indiana,  Brahma Kumaris and Hindu Temple of Central Indiana were among 70 exhibitors.
City Mayor Joe Hogsett said " since its founding in 2011, the CIC has worked to connect interfaith communities through volunteer service and civic engagement  and pursue peace through increased understanding and cooperation.
"With the theme "Embracing Religious Diversity" this year's celebration is sure to provide excellent opportunities for conversation, understanding and growth. ... Today's  festivities showcase the spirit of Indianapolis and prove the power of Hoosiers  coming together to shape and even stronger future for our community."
Participation in interfaith drum circle was a wonderful experience. Persons of all ages gained experience of playing drums which were provided by Bongo Boy Drum School. It was followed by Procession of Faiths and Opening Ceremony with welcome remarks. The parade was led by  Boy Scout Troop 396.
Faith leaders on the dais were  Sonal  Sanghani (Festival chair and Emcee), Dr Anita Joshi (Hindu), Dhabih Chulhaai (Bhai), Fred Schwab (Jewis president),  David Kinard (The Curuch of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), Maria Pimental Gannon (Catholic), Imam Mikal Saahir (Muslim),  Chiranjeev Oberio and KP Singh (Sikh).
Nityanjali Dance School presented  Bharatnatayam dance, one of the oldest  forms of Indian classical dance performance. Nirtyagan Kathak Academy  performed vandana before start of dance performance. The lyrics of Jain Bhajan was about deep devotion to Tirthankaras, who are venerated by Jains as God.
Celtic Rain: An original  Celtic Spiritual  Fusion Folk Band made up of Guitar, Celtic Drum and Tom Drum, Flute and Bagpipes, who produced  beautiful music and change lives together with their hearts and their music. There was a unique performance by Uyghurs Culture Troupe. The Muslim  culture's music and dance is performed by Uyghurs, Turkic  people living in China and Central Asia. Indianapolis Opera Resident Artists also enthralled the spectators.
 Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis shared the singing of the hymn of their Gurus. It is popularly known as Shabaad Kirtan-- singing the praises of God. Kirtan is literally divine music.
Spoken word artists Callie Sanders and Rev. Delores Thornton  recited poems inspired by social ills, death, and God’s healing grace.
Saints in Song was an all-star choir from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. rivers cultures and religious traditions.
The Sikh community members were seen explaining the importance of "Turban" (head gear) in their faith.  They spread this message by tying turbans of the visitors' heads. The visitors, including women, girls, and children got their turbans tied to their heads and seemed to be excited. The Sikh community also served food, light refreshment and water free of cost.
"Role Models, Religious Diversity and Mental Wellness were the topic for discussions. said Mr Cenk Kandemir from Turkey. Youth from many religious traditions gathered to discuss the most important questions we face, and how we should address them.  
There was free, friendly yoga offered. There were over 70 exhibitors, including Wisdom of Vedas, Sikh Satsang Indianapolis, Jain Center of Central Indiana,  Brahma Kumaris and Hindu Temple of Central Indiana.
 Center for Interfaith Cooperation booth provided complete information regarding the 2019 Indy Festival of Faiths. CIC Executive Director Charlie Wiles was overall supervising the Festival.

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