Indy Festival of Faiths: A Window to Indiana's rich Cultural and Spiritual tapestry

The Center for Interfaith Cooperation is an all-embracing initiative for thoughtful deliberations of enlightened ideas a...

Indy Festival of Faiths: A Window to Indiana's rich Cultural and Spiritual tapestry

by Kanwal Prakash (KP) Singh

The Fourth Annual Indy Festival of Faiths is one of nearly 1,500 designated Indiana Bicentennial Legacy Projects and will focus on "The History of Faiths in Indiana." The Festival on Sunday, September 18th (1:00PM-5:00PM) will place Indiana's rich fabric of faiths in the public square at Veterans Memorial Plaza in Downtown Indianapolis.

The Festival, a signature event of the Center for Interfaith Cooperation, will put a face and living texture to the legacy, legends, and heritage of faiths with colorful booths, ethnic food, fascinating performances of sacred arts that include: Processional of Faith Leaders; Table Conversations on current issues; the popular Bongo Boy Drum Circle; Coral Music and drumming by Sister Stella Sabina; Michael Glen Bell's folk music from his new CD, "Mystic Chapel;" Classical Hindu Dancers by students of Nrityanjali Dance School; Mormon Temple Choir; SAYAW: Philippine Cultural Dance Company; Taiko drumming by the Soka Gakkai International Buddhist Center; Hymn of Grace and Unity by the Sikh Satsang Choir.

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The Sikh Choir offering hymns of praise, thanksgiving and unity

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Maninder Walia and Chirjeev Oberoi at The Sikh Satsang booth

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(L-R) Charlie Wiles, Congresswoman Susan Brooks, KP Singh, Anita Lerche, Soren Hjorth

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Sikh faith leaders with Rabbi Dennis Sasso and Reverend David Scott (back)

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Dance troupe from the Philippines

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Danish-Punjabi singer Anita Lerche performing with audience members at the Festival

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Community leaders Jane Gehlhausen and Rupal Thanawala

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Sponsors and friends of the 2016 Festival of Faiths

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Amandeep Sidhu with CIC Board Member Sister Stella

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Procession of Faith Leaders

This family-friendly Festival is an opportunity to learn about diverse faiths - their history, traditions, celebrations, services, and contributions; civic engagement and humanitarian initiatives; and networking with faith communities to create peace in our neighborhoods. His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently reminded us that: "Learning, dialogue, mutual respect, compassion, humanitarian action, and service are pillars to build world harmony and peace." In recent decades, faith communities have seen this emerging renaissance as an enlightened frontier.

In the past 50 years, followers of Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Sikh, Jain, Baha'i faith, and others have joined Christian and Jewish faiths and enlarged the spiritual tapestry in Indiana. The power, energy, and reach of faiths is immense, considering their myriad forms, manifestations, dimensions, and disciplines. For billions around the world, faith and prayer are a rock that anchors spirit, shapes character, and guides actions in search of a higher purpose. The interfaith scholars invite us to witness transcendent messages and lessons; see faiths through unifying spirit-lenses that bridge separation; appreciate extended family of diverse cultures, ethnicities, and honored traditions; recognize responsibility, and in solidarity, make a difference to life, freedoms, and happiness through visionary faith-based initiatives.

The Festival of Faiths is a window to Indiana's cultural tapestry and spiritual crossroads with each faith's origin and distinct traditions shaped by time, geography, culture, and human conditions, yet reflecting common threads. The Sikh faith reminds us of "One Source of all Spiritual Knowledge." Humanity has venerated this Self-Created Immaculate Presence, from before the beginning of Time, Creation, and Life, in unique ways and with glorious Names.

In infinite compassion, God has sent Divine Messengers and enlightened souls to transform lives and guide our conduct. Faiths and traditions that surround us echo converging facets of a beautiful spiritual pilgrimage.

The Festival of Faiths is a bridge to our interdependent and interconnected humanity, an initiative to build trust and understanding with faiths and cultures different from our own. Learning about our neighbors can help dispel unfounded stereotyping, unacceptable suspicion, prejudice, and transgressions upon dignity of those with faith-mandated articles and appearance; together developing safeguards against mistaken identity, unprovoked violence, and hate crimes against fellow Americans. Sikh Americans and Muslims have faced undeserved harassment, suffered assaults and indignities since 9/11. Respecting and preserving treasured artistic and architectural heritage and freedoms of all Americans is critical to building a welcoming environment in our State and Nation. Learning about neighbors is our crossroads-of-faiths-at-work and in-service for a better future.

The Festival of Faiths are interfaith crossroads to walk in friendship. The Center for Interfaith Cooperation is an all-embracing initiative for thoughtful deliberations of enlightened ideas and experiences; networking and solidarity on issues of common interest and humanitarian projects; raising our voices against injustice, prejudice, and unconscionable suffering and victims of hate and violence; praying together in times of national and international tragedies. The Center is a resource to discover the rich heritage of faiths and is a visionary organization to strengthen our commitment to one another as a family of faiths.

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