World Religion Day

Today’s guest blog is by Cllr Tom Aditya, Chair of Bristol Multi-Faith Forum, and Mrs. Tripti Megeri, Secretary of Bristol Multi-Faith Forum.

L-R: Rt. Rev. Vivienne Faull, Zaheer Shabir, Cllr Asher Craig, Cllr Tom Aditya, Parmjit Kaur, Mayor Marvin Rees, Kerry McCarthy MP, Cllr Craig Cheney. The person in the portrait is Parmjit Kaur’s great grandfather, Col. Nihal Singh Bahadur, who died in World War 1, after winning 14 distinguished services awards during his military career.

Bristol Multi-Faith Forum (BMFF) joyfully greets you all on World Religion Day, which aims to create awareness of different cultures and religions and to promote inter-faith understanding, unity, and social harmony. The observance of World Religion Day started in 1950s. This year, it is celebrated on January 17th.

World Religion Day provides the best opportunity to spread the message of community cohesion, humanity, compassion, tolerance, and unity. It encourages people to talk, listen, and understand the basic creeds of other religions. Practices and customs followed by different faiths vary, but every religion preaches kindness and other humanitarian values. Empathy and compassion are core human qualities. Diversity is an essential part of humankind. Tolerance towards different religions and cultures is needed to ensure harmony in society.

Bristol Multi-Faith Forum, instituted in 2004 by the Bristol City Council, acts as an agency for inter-faith and inter-cultural community cohesion, promoting the health and well-being of communities.

In recent years, there has been an increase in hate-crime, racism, intolerance and discrimination related incidents. These can knock-out victims’ morale and adversely affect their mental and physical health as well as personal and professional life. Consistent education and awareness about different religions and cultures can help to address the hate-crime related issues.

BMFF ardently supports the activities of the UK Inter-Faith Network. We participated in the ‘Buddying Scheme’, where we set up pairs of people from different faith communities to learn about each other’s beliefs and practices. Similarly, BMFF plays a collaborative role in organising the Bristol Lord Mayor’s Inter-Faith Civic Celebration, Raja Ram Mohan Roy’s Day, NHS-BT Blood and Organ Donation Campaign, the Healthy Walks, Bristol (Grand?)Iftar, and many such events. Adhering to the principles of social harmony, BMFF facilitates the community leaders’ meetings and supports the faith-communities in the best way possible.

BMFF echoes World Religion Day’s message, by providing a voice and vehicle for multifaith dialogue. BMFF usually organises the ‘Diverse Doors Open Day (DDOD)’ every year in Bristol and provides an opportunity to visit a wide range of places of worship and learn about the many faith communities in Bristol. On the 23rd of February 2020, BMFF hosted DDOD across 12 different places of worship in Bristol, and hundreds of people attended. But this year, due to the pandemic, things will be different, and the community’s wellbeing is our priority. We are hoping to host DDOD again, once the situation gets better. We are fortunate to have the advantage of modern technology and social media platforms, which helps to deliver the message to the wider audience effectively. Let’s save lives by staying at home and spreading the message of kindness.

2020 has been a tough year for everyone and the turmoil caused was beyond anyone’s imagination. But the community spirit and unity displayed in helping the vulnerable people was praiseworthy. Let us continue to help and support each other.

BMFF express its gratitude to the Mayor for sharing the blogspace on this occasion. We welcome you all to join BMFF and to pursue community-building activities, positively. Wishing you all to have a healthy, peaceful, and harmonious time ahead.

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