The 7th Annual Indy Festival of Faiths was a ‘Sangam’ (confluence) of many cultures and religious traditions. Organized by the Center for Interfaith Cooperation at Veterans Memorial Plaza, Downtown, Indianapolis, the Religious Diversity festival attracted a large number of visitors and participants from all major religions of the world and interfaith communities.
Wisdom of Vedas, Sikh Satsang Indianapolis, Jain Center of Central Indiana, Brahma Kumaris and Hindu Temple of Central Indiana were among 70 exhibitors.
City Mayor Joe Hogsett said ” since its founding in 2011, the CIC has worked to connect interfaith communities through volunteer service and civic engagement and pursue peace through increased understanding and cooperation.
“With the theme “Embracing Religious Diversity” this year’s celebration is sure to provide excellent opportunities for conversation, understanding, and growth. … Today’s festivities showcase the spirit of Indianapolis and prove the power of Hoosiers coming together to shape an even stronger future for our community.”
Participation in interfaith drum circle was a wonderful experience. Persons of all ages gained experience of playing drums which were provided by Bongo Boy Drum School. It was followed by Procession of Faiths and Opening Ceremony with welcome remarks. The parade was led by Boy Scout Troop 396.
Faith leaders on the dais were Sonal Sanghani (Festival chair and Emcee), Dr Anita Joshi (Hindu), Dhabih Chulhaai (Bhai), Fred Schwab (Jewish president), David Kinard (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), Maria Pimental Gannon (Catholic), Imam Mikal Saahir (Muslim), Chirjeev Oberoi and KP Singh (Sikh).
Nityanjali Dance School presented Bharatnatayam dance, one of the oldest forms of Indian classical dance performance. Nirtyagan Kathak Academy performed vandana before the start of the dance performance. The lyrics of Jain Bhajan was about deep devotion to Tirthankaras, who are venerated by Jains as God.
Celtic Rain: An original Celtic Spiritual Fusion Folk Band made up of Guitar, Celtic Drum and Tom Drum, Flute and Bagpipes, who produced beautiful music and change lives together with their hearts and their music.
There was a unique performance by Uyghurs Culture Troupe. The Muslim culture’s music and dance were performed by Uyghurs, Turkic people living in China and Central Asia. Indianapolis Opera Resident Artists also enthralled the spectators.
Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis shared the singing of the hymn of their Gurus. It is popularly known as Shabaad Kirtan– singing the praises of God. Kirtan is literally divine music.
Spoken word artists Callie Sanders and Rev. Delores Thornton recited poems inspired by social ills, death, and God’s healing grace.
Saints in Song was an all-star choir from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. rivers cultures and religious traditions.
The Sikh community members were seen explaining the importance of “Turban” (headgear) in their faith. They spread this message by tying turbans of the visitors’ heads. The visitors, including women, girls, and children got their turbans tied to their heads and seemed to be excited. The Sikh community also served food, light refreshment and water free of cost.
“Role Models, Religious Diversity and Mental Wellness were the topics for discussions.” said Cenk Kandemir from the Niagara Foundation. “Youth from many religious traditions gathered to discuss the most important questions we face, and how we should address them.”
There was free, friendly yoga offered. There were over 70 exhibitors, including Wisdom of Vedas, Sikh Satsang Indianapolis, Jain Center of Central Indiana, Brahma Kumaris and Hindu Temple of Central Indiana.
The Center for Interfaith Cooperation booth provided complete information regarding the 2019 Indy Festival of Faiths. CIC Executive Director Charlie Wiles was overall supervising the Festival.