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Posts tagged ‘Bharatiya Temple PA’

Interfaith Encounters Day 4

Our day began with outdoor gardening work at the aptly-named urban oasis, Girarden, so named because of its location on Girard Ave. in West Philly.

Muneerah and Sue, our two wonderful hosts, walked us through the work to be done–weeding, trash detail, prep for planting.

The group got a lot done and we enjoyed the beautiful sunshine!

After that, we traveled to Interfaith Philadelphia to meet up with Andrew, Communications Director and overseer of the Alternative Break program. Andrew shared a bit about Interfaith Philadelphia and some upcoming programs, including Civil Conversations.

Then, I led a workshop about pluralism with the students. They had such great insights and shared some of the obstacles to embracing active engagement in interfaith work. We reflected on Eboo Patel’s passion for pluralism in place of tolerance and what we can do to truly know our neighbors and to work with them side by side.

Soon after, we journeyed to the NW suburbs of Philadelphia to
Bharatiya, a multi-deity Hindu and Jain temple.

We were incredibly fortunate to be there for the Holi Festival.

Holi Festival

The festival of colors is vibrant and considered one of the major festivals in India. It is celebrated in the month of Phalgun on full moon day according to the Hindu calendar. It takes place at the start of spring. This festival also celebrates the eternal love of Radha and Krishna. Holi teaches humankind to transcend above caste and creed. It is a festival to forget old grievances and to meet others with great warmth. Celebrants light a bonfire on Holi eve and then the next day, people greet each other with Happy Holi and the colors fly!

We were fortunate enough to experience this all in one night! What fun it was! Such an amazing experience! So much community and celebration!

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Interfaith Immersion Day 3

Tuesday

Our morning and early afternoon was spent at Calvary Center for Culture and Community in West Philly.

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CCCC is housed in the 1906 Calvary United Methodist Church building at 48th & Baltimore Avenue. The Center serves over 5,000 community members yearly, acting as the “town hall” for one of the nation’s most vibrant and diverse communities.

These communities include: the local community association, refugee groups, Twelve Step programs, the historic preservation society, art and cultural activities,peace and social justice organizations, educational classes, and several religious congregations.

CCCC’s mission is to:

 

* Nurture and support efforts to improve the quality of urban life

* Encourage creative and performing arts that enrich the community

​* Preserve, restore and renew the historic Calvary Church building

Our host Kari was amazing. Kari shared with us a brief history of the community, took us on a tour, and talked about what CCCC is currently doing to make a positive social impact in its community.

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After the tour, the groups got to work. They cleaned various parts of the building, helped organize the office space, moved furniture, dealt with trash, and helped recycle old documents.

Clearly, CCCC is engaged in interfaith social justice work for the sake of the common good. This community faces many challenges as they seek to truly be a welcoming, interfaith community, with the neighborhood around them always on their minds.


Tuesday Eve

In the early evening we journeyed to the NW suburbs of Philadelphia for a visit to Bharatiya Temple and Cultural Center, a Multi Deity Hindu and Jain Temple.

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I have been to Bharatiya many times and have always had a good experience. Our group consisted of 3 students who identify as Hindu, so that added another layer of meaning to this particular visit.

As always, at Bharatiya, we were greeted with smiles and conversation. First, we met downstairs where the cultural events take place for Q&A. Sorry to be a broken record, but I was really impressed by the students’ questions and reflections. Also, our hosts were gracious, honest, and accommodating. There is no way to cover Hinduism [and Jainism, for that matter] in a blog post. So please explore. And visit temples and talk to Hindus and Jains. This is the way to learn. This site is a great place to start also.

After the Q&A it was time to go upstairs into the prayer space for the Tuesday evening prayers.

Image result for bharatiya temple chalfont paWe were able to participate as we wished in the pujas [ritual prayers]. Everyone got a chance to hear about the various representations of deities in the prayer space and what they mean to Hindus and Jains. While we were walking around the prayer space, priests were leading devotees in chanting and singing, candles were lit,  a bell was rung, and fruit and water were given to those who participated in the puja.

What did I take away from this visit? Well, there was a certain comfort in hearing that to define “what is a Hindu” is not really an important question. One student from Mumbai, India, asked if one could be an atheist and also considered a Hindu. The answer, emphatically, was yes.

The wisdom gained from this evening was that no matter one’s religion [or lack thereof] it is how a person lives their life that matters most.

How do they treat people? Are they loving and caring and compassionate? Are they justice-seeking?

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See you tomorrow.

 

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