Faiths celebrate their Commonwealth Heritage

A ‘Big Lunch’ to celebrate the Commonwealth heritage of many residents of the borough is being held on 19th April.  Hounslow Jamia Masjid in Wellington Road South is taking the initiative to mark the meeting of the Heads of Government of Commonwealth countries taking place in London in April 2018.  Events have already taken place and Hounslow Friends of Faith was represented at a reception to mark the occasion which took place at Buckingham Palace in February. Members also attended a reception in March at Hounslow Civic Centre at the invitation of the Mayor of Hounslow, Councillor Sue Sampson.

General Secretary of the mosque Shafiq Rehman sees the lunch as a great community event, once again celebrating the diversity of Hounslow borough.  He hopes to have people present at the lunch from as many of the 53 countries of the Commonwealth as possible, many of whom will be of different faiths.  Get in touch with Hounslow Friends of Faith if you would like to attend or know someone else who would like an invitation.

Holocaust Memorial Day Ceremony 2018

Hounslow Friends of Faith members joined students and other guests at the Green School for Girls to mark Holocaust Memorial Day on 29th January.  In the presence of the Mayor of Hounslow, Councillor Sue Sampson and other civic officials, Michael Brown shared the story of his life in Germany before the Second World War, his escape to the UK on the second last Kindertransport in August 1939 and his time with foster parents in Liverpool.

The theme for 2018 was the Power of Words and Michael described how words can be used to denigrate and discriminate against groups of people with horrific consequences.

Rev Richard Frank, Anglican Area Dean, suggested that by being at this event, those present were able to show through their living and their speaking their determination that such an event as the Holocaust could never happen again.

Leader of Hounslow Council, Steve Curran, referred to the diversity of the borough. He asked students whose families were newer residents to find out what their relatives had felt like when they first arrived.  Anti-semitism and hate crime are only just below the surface and there have been more recent genocides such as Muslims at Srebrenica in Bosnia. Always challenge any inappropriate remark, he stated.

Councillor Curran mentioned that Hounslow Council have taken some unaccompanied refugee children from Calais and families from Syria.  These latter are being supported by members of the community. (Note: this is through Refugees Welcome Hounslow, a group sponsored by Hounslow Friends of Faith.  Get in touch if you would like to know more.)

There was moving display of art work by sixth form students on the topic in the school hall. Photos of some of these and of the event are in our Gallery. Photo credits Bessie White and LB Hounslow.

Inter Faith Week in Hounslow 2017

 Inter Faith Week is marked across the UK in mid November each year with a wide range of activities, all designed to bring people of different faiths together and show the positive contribution faiths can make to society. Two great events took place locally.

The HFOF Women’s Group had fun at the Bring and Share, East meets West food evening. Samosa chaat with tamarind sauce, mince pies, patra – chickpeas and colocasia (eddoes), Polish salad, coconut macaroons and the vicar of Feltham’s upside down pineapple cake. Thanks to Satish Dutt for some laughter yoga to get us in the mood and to Divya for a quiz afterwards. And thank you to all the cooks.  A great evening.

Later in the week there were two stimulating performances of The Bundle, a play by Journeymen Theatre about an asylum seeker’s journey.  It highlighted some of the issues involved for those of us who have little experience of what it’s like to feel driven from an intolerable situation to seek a safer life. Journeymen Theatre Company members are active in projects for asylum seekers in the West Midlands, including a scheme to pay transport costs, and MacKenzie Friends, who offer non-professional support and advice to asylum seekers as they present their cases to tribunals.

Donations at the performances were shared between the projects above and Refugees Welcome Hounslow.  This group, which was launched following an initiative of Hounslow Friends of Faith is just celebrating the arrival of the second household from Syria under the Government’s Vulnerable Persons Resettlement Scheme, with a third following very soon.  Hounslow Council are accepting up to 10 families, just as soon as private properties can be found.  Do get in touch if you can help.

For more information about other events which took place round the country during Inter Faith Week see https://www.interfaithweek.org

Death of Jagjiwan Singh, Hounslow Friends of Faith Patron

We are very sorry to announce the death on 31st October 2017 of Hounslow Friends of Faith Patron Jagjiwan Singh Rihal.

Jagjiwan worked actively for good relations between faiths for many years. He was an early member of the group which set up Hounslow Friends of Faith and supported the organisation as both chair and treasurer.  He was active in interfaith circles at national level serving as Co-Chair of the Inter Faith Network for the UK.

Locally he was instrumental in the foundation of the Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha in Alice Way in Hounslow, where he acted both as Chairman of Trustees and subsequently as President.  He was involved with local community groups, such as the Pensioners’ Alliance among others.

The funeral is to take place at the gurdwara on 7th November.

We send our condolences to his widow Kuldeep Kaur and his family.

Women’s Group Picnic in the Park

Picnic in Osterley Park 2 19.8.17Over 25 adults and children enjoyed the sunshine at our Interfaith Women’s Group picnic in Osterley Park on 19th August 2017 when the chat and food flowed. ‘Does this happen every year?’ was the question, to which the answer must be yes!  Some people had enjoyed the Walk earlier in the summer, some were regulars at the Knitting Group while others again are active with Refugees Welcome Hounslow for which HFOF is a founder member and sponsor.

Afterwards a group went for a walk in the park and others made the most of the buggy transport along the drive.

Meanwhile the next sessions for the group will be in Feltham on 16th September at 4pm and 2nd October at 7.15pm. Hold the dates, details to follow in our events section.

Learning from the leaders of the great religions

Presentation to John Parry and his wife cpd What can we learn from the leaders of the great religions, even if we are not of that faith?  Rev Dr John Parry, a United Reformed Minister who has studied Sikhism for over 30 years, shared his insights with a well attended multi-faith audience at the Gurdwara Sri Singh Sabha in Hounslow on 13th July.

Guru Gobind Singh was the 10th and last spiritual leader and the founder of the Khalsa, the Sikh community, in 1699.  He was a man of vision, commitment and organisational skills, but also of humility. Although he inspired sacrifice from Sikhs as they stood up for their faith against the Mughal emperor, he also saw humanity as one. He distinguished between the political form of a religion and faith itself for the individual.

John Parry discussed the value to a faith of scriptures, the understanding of the concept of God and the obligation of service to others. It was Guru Gobind Singh who installed the Sikh scriptures as the final guru, always available and central to the life of the community and the family.

He saw the concept of God as too great for the human mind to comprehend.  This inability to comprehend God fully has a parallel in Christian St Paul’s words ‘through a glass darkly’.  Humans should always be selfless and give service to others.

This talk presented something new and different, a real soul searching for those who are at the chalk face of interfaith activities, having to deal with histories of strife between faiths and yet finding a way forward together as one diverse humankind.

The photo shows John Parry and his wife receiving a thank you gift from Chair of HFOF Charanjit Ajit Singh.  Earlier John had presented a copy of his book ‘The Word of God is not Bound, the encounter of Sikhs and Christians in India and the UK’ to Mr Gurmeet Singh, President of the Gurdwara.

Hounslow Friends of Faith wins prize

Kingsley Academy jpeg cpdHounslow Friends of Faith were delighted to be chosen by a group of Year 8 students at Kingsley Academy as part of a First Give competition.  Students researched local charities and shared what they discovered in front of their year group.  A panel of judges marked them on the delivery and creativity of their presentations and their knowledge of their chosen charities.

Danish and his colleagues made a link between bullying and hate crime, vividly explaining how the scars of both remain long term. They made the case that Hounslow Friends of Faith brings people together and stands up against intimidation of anyone just for being who they are.

The presentation in July 2017 won the group a runner up prize and Hounslow Friends of Faith will receive £250.  Thank you Danish and friends!  We hope we can put the money towards work with young people to encourage understanding and reduce bullying.

First Give is a programme which works with secondary schools to help young people give their time, tenacity and talents to help their local communities through sparking a social conscience and developing team work and research and presentation skills.

Walk of Peace and Friendship 2017

Group photo at Hindu temple 2017Our annual Walk of Peace and Friendship took place this year on 1st July in Brentford and Chiswick. This enjoyable event was our regular opportunity to visit different places of worship, hear informal talks about faith and share with people from different communities in our richly diverse borough.

We met at 11am at the Hanuman Hindu Temple in Beech Avenue in Brentford.  This centre opened officially this year after extensive building and renovation work. Their particular interest is Hindu spirituality through yoga and music. We heard about the meaning of the beautiful carvings on the main doors and the shrines where the priest gave aarti, a Hindu prayer.

A short bus journey took us to Gunnersbury to the Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Harvard Road in Chiswick where we had a most delicious lunch. The church is the cathedral for the diocese of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia (ROCOR), with communities on the territories of the UK and Ireland.  We learnt about the very beautiful icons in the upper and lower parts of the church building and the priest gave a blessing.

From there the Walk continued to Christ Church, Turnham Green in Town Hall Avenue,  a lively Anglican parish church.  We heard about the range of their activities using their building in the heart of community and the value they find in prayer.

The final venue was the London Buddhist Vihara in The Avenue. The Vihara has a resident community of monks from Sri Lanka and is a leading centre for Theravada Buddhism. Founded in 1926 by Anagarika Dharmapala, the Vihara was the first Buddhist monastery to be established outside the continent of Asia. It moved to Chiswick in 1964 and has been in its present building since 1994.  We heard about the value of the Buddhist way and heard uplifting Buddhist chanting.

Thank you to all the places of worship who took time to open their doors to us and to the enthusiastic walkers who took part on the day.

 

 

Recent Attacks in London and Manchester

Table at vigil 1 for useHounslow Friends of Faith issued two statements following the terrorist attacks in London and in Manchester.

Hounlsow Friends of Faith is shocked and greatly distressed that once again individuals have carried out a deplorable attack at London Bridge, so soon after the outrage in Manchester.  We know these feelings are shared by many groups in the borough and welcome the statements of condemnation which have already been issued.  We feel the pain of those caught up in the events and hold them in our thoughts and prayers.

We acknowledge once more the good relations between faiths which exist in Hounslow. We must not allow such attacks to weaken our resolve to stay as one Hounslow community.

Charanjit Ajit Singh            Chair                                  Bessie White

On behalf of HFOF Committee                                    Information Officer

5th June 2017

 

Statement following Manchester Arena attack

As faith leaders in Hounslow, we unite in our sadness and condemnation of the dreadful attack in Manchester which has affected families, young people and children.  Here we are grateful for the good relations that exist between the faith communities where we know each other as friends and colleagues and work together for the common good.  We must not allow this attack by an individual to damage this.  We hold all those affected in our thoughts and prayers.

Signed

Charanjit Ajit Singh     Chair Hounslow Friends of Faith

Rev Tom Gillum           Vice Chair Hounslow Friends of Faith

Divya Din                       Vice Chair Hounslow Friends of Faith

Shafiq Rehman             General Secretary Hounslow Jamia Mosque and on behalf of Hounslow Social

and Political Committee which represents the mosques and Islamic Centres in the borough of Hounslow

Rev Richard Frank      Church of England Hounslow Area Dean

23rd May 2017

We have already received several messages of support and requests specifically to be associated with this statement. These include from the Ahmadiyya Community and HIRA (Hounslow Islamic Relief Association) in Feltham.

The photo shows the statement on display at the vigil held at Hounlsow Jamia Masjid on 27th May attended by representatives of many faiths.

 

Fun and learning through Rangoli Patterns

Rangoli demonstration piece for website 2A great afternoon was held on 13th May and informative too learning about colourful rangoli patterns and trying them ourselves. They are very much a part of Hindu tradition and are used for decoration particularly during Diwali. We used coloured sand, although they can be made with rice grains, flour, sand or chalk. The patterns always balance.  We found they take practice! They are impermanent, as is life.

Rahki bracelets which sisters give brothers each year are much easier to make. Thanks to Bharti Tailor for showing us and to the Hanuman Hindu Temple in Brentford for hosting the event.