Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Handsworth Community Celebrates as one family

Hundreds of Sikhs, people of all faiths, and people of no faith from across Handsworth joined together to celebrate the shaheedi (sacrifice) of the Guru Arjan Dev Ji as part of a year-long  interfaith volunteering initiative honouring Her Majesty the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee 

This event was part A Year of Service, a multi-faith initiative that brings together volunteers of all faiths and no faiths to participate in projects and events to improve their communities over the course of the Jubilee year and beyond.  Each month, a particular faith community is given the responsibility for spearheading the project and for inviting people from other faith groups to get stuck in. Events are held across the country over the course of each month and are open to people of all faiths as well as to those without religious affiliation.

June’s theme was “Bringing Sweetness”, chosen to mark the shaheedi (sacrifice) of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, who lived a life in service to humanity and devoted to God. 
Hosted on the busy Soho Road, the event included personal reflections, stalls and exhibitions, children’s events, free food and a traditional “shabeel” serving refreshment to attendees and passers-by. For some, the highlight was an exclusive showing of art work by Daniel Connell, which gave visitors the opportunity to meet the artist, watch him at work and view his latest collection. The exhibition created opportunities for dialogue and reflection between diverse communities using portraiture. Attendees included Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Christians as well as representatives from other faiths (and those with no faith).

Birmingham’s faith representatives took to the stage to share their message of peace and tolerance and also give their personal congratulation to Her Majesty the Queen, expressing their gratitude for the freedom, dignity and sovereignty she rules her great diverse nation. The speakers sharing personal reflections included inspirational figures like Moqapi Selassie, Arvinder Jain, Ramona Kauth, Matloob Hussain, Dinesh Chauhan, Sajida Madni, Bill Ozane, Cllr M Hussain and Parmjit Kaur. Each of them gave a clear message of thanks to Her Majesty and also messages of cohesion, unity, peace, love and the welfare of all. 

Speaking at the event, Chairman of GNNSJ and the NCA, Bhai Sahib Bhai Dr Mohinder Singh said:

“Today is significant on many levels, but the key messages are about commitment, an unfathomable duty or Dharam, deep rooted values, sacrifice, selfless or Nishkam service, a belief system based on righteousness and the dignity of others, a clear understanding of justice and knowing the difference between right and wrong, whilst being a role model for others to aspire to.

“All religious traditions and faiths are based on the foundations of compassion, mercy and forgiveness. When you talk about ‘justice’, it must be within the context of practising compassion, mercy and forgiveness; you cannot let go of these virtues and values for a second.

Event partners included Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ), Birmingham Faith Leaders, Birmingham Council of Faith, WM Faith Forum, the Nishkam Civic Association (NCA), West Midlands Police, Birmingham City Council, Central Mosque, Buddhist Vihara, Religions for Peace, Hindu Council of Birmingham, Nishkam Nursery, Jubilee Debt Campaign, Nishkam Primary and High Schools, Birmingham Churches Together, Soho Traders, Faizul Qur'an Jamia Masjid and of course Job Centre Plus who made the venue available. Organisers celebrated in style by setting up a marquee so that the forecasted rain did not disrupt proceedings. 

Event Organisers were grateful to Cllr Paulette Hamilton and Cllr Waseem Zaffar MBE who joined the celebrations and congratulated all for their commitment and passion. Cllr Mahmood Hussain addressed the community by reflecting on the success of the event. 

Cllr Mahmood Hussain said, “It was a great event that was very well put together by the partners. I am very pleased to have seen the diversity of people that came out to celebrate with us. The turnout was exceptional. I am sure that HM The Queen must be delighted that her citizens of diverse communities are celebrating her Diamond Jubilee together showing solidarity and social cohesion.”

Cllr Hendrina Quinnen said:

 “What we have seen today is a great gathering of different communities to celebrate the Jubilee and other faith related events. It’s lovely to get together and share things of common interest and where possible, I feel we need more of these events. I have seen that the understanding of other faiths is important and is the baseline of bringing people together through shared values and responsibilities. The event really demonstrates we can work together and become united through understanding each other’s beliefs.”

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