World Interfaith Harmony Week 2022
Pilgrimage to Places of Worship: Stories of Hope from Women of Faith
To celebrate World Interfaith Harmony Week 2022, Interfaith Scotland partnered with two local interfaith groups that were set up by and for women: Edinburgh Women’s Interfaith Group and Women of Faith and Community (Glasgow) to organise a pilgrimage to places of worship in Glasgow on 3rd February.
The local women’s groups planned the event with Interfaith Scotland’s staff team, and members of the groups chose the theme ‘Stories of Hope from Women of Faith’. For them it was important to learn not just about the key beliefs of different faiths, but about the things about people’s faith that inspired them and gave them hope for the future, especially during the difficult years of the pandemic.
Nearly 30 women gathered at the starting point of the pilgrimage, the impressive University of Glasgow Chapel. The University Chaplain Rev Carolyn Kelly spoke movingly about the concept of hope in Christian and Jewish traditions, particularly in the light of the Holocaust.
Participants were then given the opportunity to get to know one another in small groups and talk about their hopes for the day. Before the group of pilgrims headed to the Hindu Mandir via Kelvingrove Park, they were given a presentation by Linda Haggerstone, the National Interfaith Officer for the Scottish Pagan Federation. Linda shared two poems that she had written for the festival of Imbolc (also known as the feast of St Brigid in Celtic Christian traditions) heralding the beginning of Spring.
At the Hindu Mandir, we were welcomed by Acharyaji (the head priest) and former Board member of Interfaith Scotland, Mrs Madhu Jain. She spoke to us about what it was like to move from India to Glasgow and finding the local Indian community. Building the temple and thus providing a place of worship for the Hindu community helped the transition and it is now an opportunity to teach the next generation about Hinduism and Indian culture.
We proceeded from there to the Central Gurdwara. We were welcomed by a young woman, Gursinder Kaur and taken up to the main shrine. She led us through the history of women’s empowerment in Sikhism and sang some prayer songs from their scripture about the equality and value of women. We were offered a generous lunch (langar) in the langar hall.
A long uphill climb led us to our final destination of Garnethill Synagogue. We were welcomed by Fiona Brodie, Trustee of the Scottish Jewish Archives Centre, who spoke to us about the many projects undertaken by the Jewish community to assist people during the pandemic. On this cheerful note of community spirit we dispersed, pleased to have been able to meet many friends old and new in person after a long time.
All the talks from the pilgrimage were recorded and are available to view on Interfaith Scotland’s YouTube channel.
Protection of Mother Earth through Mindfulness and Prayer
For World Interfaith Harmony Week 2022, an online event was organised in partnership with Mindfulness for Earth initiative, the United Nation’s Environmental Programme’s Faith for Earth initiative and Interfaith Scotland.
In recognition of the urgent need to tackle and prevent the climate crisis through the methods of mindfulness, prayer and spirituality, the event focused on how people of all faiths can come together and use these methods to create a direct impact on protecting our Mother Earth.
Faith leaders from across the world representing six faiths – Ravinder Kaur Nijjar (Sikhism), Venerable U Dhammajiva and Ven Ringu Tulku Rinpoche (Buddhism), Sister Isabel Smyth (Christianity), Swami Gunatitananda Saraswati (Hinduism), Valeriane Bernard (Brahma Kumaris) and Ash-Sheikh Abdullah Mohideen (Islam), spoke on how mindfulness and prayer can be helpful towards protecting the environment, and how it could lead to preventing further climate crises.
Encouraging us to reconnect with ourselves and our Mother Earth, each faith leader also shared a short meditation practice or a prayer.
50 people from across the world attended the online event which was also live streamed on YouTube and has currently been viewed by 210 people. Watch here.