The All Faiths Network (AFN) held its annual Interfaith Week event on 20th November at the Central Gurdwara London (Khalsa Jatha) bringing together over 70 people from a wide range of Faiths. The Gurdwara is the oldest established Sikh place of worship in the Western world. The faith representatives were enlightened by music, dance, song, poetry, and short talks from 17 different presenters.
After guests enjoyed traditional Sikh food in langar the opening ceremony was held in the Prayer Hall. Lord Wajid Khan who thanked the attendees for working towards better communities, unity, and hope said, “Tonight is a way of celebrating the great efforts of all of you championing diversity, celebrating our difference but also the way we come together for the common good, and we together can ensure that hope will always prevail and unity will prevail over division and good over evil. Thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.”
Martin Weightman, AFN’s Director said, “This year our theme was ‘improving the environment and we had contributions from different religions on how they are doing this as well as including a number of youth performances. Whether the problem be pollution or simply making our environment a better one in different ways, the common theme from the religious speakers and performers attending was that we have a responsibility to make a change and we can all do something to improve things for the better.”
The Jewish, Islamic, Christian, Scientology, Sikh, and Hindu presenters expressed this, not only in words but also through creative music and song. Navleen Kaur, a Sikh educational minister introduced young Sikh performers playing a kirtan (singing of sacred hymns) accompanied by traditional instruments; Rabbi Jeff Berger gave us a Jewish story on protecting the environment; Jafira Naqvi, Sufi poet was accompanied by Everton Bahadur Young, a Sikh himself, they joined together singing and reading poetry to music; Dr. Ragasudha Vinjamuri, an award-winning dancer who uses dance for environmental advocacy, danced herself and also presented young dancers from the Sanskruti Centre for Cultural Excellence whilst we had a song, prayer, and talks from the many religious representatives.
After the event, Mandip Singh Sohal, Trustee of Central Gurdwara (Khalsa Jatha), spoke, “We want to thank the AFN for choosing the Gurdwara. It was simply wonderful to see so many like-minded faith leaders and representatives making a contribution to this important and most pertinent topic and how the faiths encourage adherents to look after the environment. It was also an opportunity to make new friends and grow on our journey together.”
Tracey Coleman, AFN Event Manager and also Community Affairs Officer at the Church of Scientology rounded off the event with a Prayer for Total Freedom [written by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard] and said, “I really want to thank the Khalsa Jatha for their wonderful hospitality and support in allowing us to use their beautiful space for this event. This was truly an example of interfaith cooperation and how faiths can work together and enjoy each other’s cultures and beliefs.”