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In an inspiring showcase of cultural diversity and unity, the Sikh Community from Cincinnati and neighboring Dayton converged at the sixth annual “Cincinnati Festival of Faiths” hosted by “Equasion”. This event This event, aimed at celebrating the richness of various faith traditions in the community, witnessed participation from more than 30 faith organizations representing 13 world religions. 

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A Multi-Faith Inauguration

The Festival commenced with a multi-faith prayer service that set a harmonious tone for the event. Aasees Kaur, the wife of the late Jaipal Singh, who was among the founding members of the Festival, shared profound insights into the foundational teachings of Sikhism through the "Mool Mantar." She articulated the Sikh aspiration to merge into the Divine Being, akin to water merging with water and light merging with light, underscoring the yearning for peace and justice.

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Sharing Sikh Values: Exhibits and Turban Tying

The Sikh booth was among several exhibits representing diverse faith-based organizations in Cincinnati. It provided an opportunity for visitors to gain insights into Sikh beliefs, practices, and values through books, brochures, and the five Sikh articles of faith known as "Kakkars." Booklets containing information about Sikhs were distributed to guests. 

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Turban Tying Sessions: A Lesson in Sikh Identity

In a bid to deepen understanding, community members organized turban-tying sessions, enlightening visitors about the profound significance of the Sikh turban, or "dastaar." Sikh volunteers patiently guided participants through the process, emphasizing the turban's symbolism of equality, humility, and commitment to Sikh principles. The Festival was transformed by the vibrant colors and traditions of Sikh culture, with attendees of all ages proudly sporting their newly tied turbans and capturing the moment with photographs.

Langar: A Meal of Equality, Unity and Service

Collaborating with members of the Hindu community, Sikhs prepared and served Langar (community kitchen food) at the event. The Langar, a staple in Sikh gurdwaras worldwide, epitomized the values of selfless service, equality, and community. Sikhs extended this tradition to the Festival of Faiths, serving the vegetarian feast to all present. 

The langar service at the Cincinnati Festival of Faiths brought together diverse individuals to sit together in the spirit of unity. It served as a powerful reminder of the Sikh commitment to fostering a sense of belonging and equality among all. 

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Mayor Celebrates Inclusivity and Service

Mayor of Cincinnati, Aftab Purewal, lauded the festival as a symbol of unity and inclusivity. Mayor said, “I am proud of the local sikh community not just from the Guru Nanak Society of Greater Cincinnati but also the Dayton Sikh community. We are out here serving langar to various people at the festival. I am excited for the Sikh community to continue to grow, continue to be proud and continue most importantly to share our religion of service and commitment to those around us, lifting up our community. It makes me so proud to see so many people join langar, many for the first time.”

Remembering Jaipal Singh  

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On this occasion, the community also remembered and paid tribute to Jaipal Singh, a co-chair of the Cincinnati Festival of Faiths. Jaipal Singh’s passing in May 2022, following a courageous battle with gastric cancer, left a void that was keenly felt. Chip Harrod, the Executive Director of the Festival eloquently remembered Jaipal’s significant contributions. 

The Festival hosting representatives from 13 world faiths, prominently featured the local Sikh community, whose multifaceted contributions enriched the event’s sprint. Jaipal Singh played a pivotal role in bringing together this diverse array of faiths, emphasizing the festival’s mission of fostering education, empathy, understanding and love among the various faith-based traditions in the greater Cincinnati area. Jaipal’s unwavering dedication to creating such an event was commended, and his enduring sprit was felt throughout the festivities. 

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Promoting Interfaith Harmony

The Festivals of Faiths has become a shining example of how diverse communities can come together to promote interfaith harmony, celebrate cultural heritage, and bridge gaps between different belief systems. Sikhs, through their participation in events like these, aim to foster greater understanding and appreciation of their faith and traditions while building bonds with neighbors of various backgrounds. 

As the city continues to embrace its multicultural identity, events like the Festival of Faiths play a vital role in promoting tolerance, respect, and unity among its residents. The Sikh community's efforts to share their traditions, such as turban tying and langar, are a testament to the power of cultural exchange and dialogue in creating a more inclusive and harmonious society

 

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