(Vatican Radio) Hindu prayers, Sufi meditation, Urdu Christian songs and Chinese children’s dancing: those are just a few of the wide variety of religious and cultural activities on offer this Sunday at a ‘Peace and Unity’ event in Manchester Cathedral.
The afternoon event, organised in conjunction with the city’s interfaith network, comes just two months after a terror attack at Manchester Arena which killed 23 people and injured hundreds of others.
The goal of the ‘Peace and Unity’ event is to celebrate the cultural diversity of the city, which counts over two hundred different linguistic and ethnic groups.
Philippa Hitchen talked to one of the organisers, Rev. Rogers Govender, dean of the Anglican cathedral that is hosting the event with the hashtag #WeStandTogether….
Govender says this is the second year in a row that he has helped to organize such a cultural event to bring people together from the city’s diverse religious communities.
He says that in the face of the terrible events that have taken place in Manchester and beyond, with the intended desire to divide communities, this ‘Peace and Unity’ event wishes “to affirm our diversity and to celebrate it” instead.
Govender says the city is largely made up of immigrants from all over the world and notes that he himself is an immigrant from South Africa. He describes it as “a great tragedy when terrorists, and others on the far right and so on, seek to divide our community”.
Faith community cooperation
He says the various faith communities in the city “work very well together”, adding that he is involved in a number of interfaith events, aimed at encouraging the different communities to engage in the life of the city.
While the terror attack at Manchester Arena, located near the cathedral, left people fearful, Govender says in the aftermath of the atrocity religious communities and faith leaders “worked very hard together” with Town Hall authorities and local and national governments to hold the community together. “I would like to think that we have largely succeeded in doing that”, he adds.
Aftermath of terror attack
Directly following the suicide bombing, he says, faith leaders were available to speak with people on the streets. Since the cathedral was shut down for two days, services were held outside, including a prayer vigil in front of the Town Hall, while Christian and Muslim leaders gathered together to lay flowers and tributes to the victims. Govender says he also hosted a meeting at the cathedral where political and religious representatives prayed for all those affected by the tragedy.
The ‘Peace and Unity’ event, Govender concludes, aims to be “very family friendly”, encouraging children to read, dance, listen to stories or do crafts together. He urges people to sign up on the website firstname.lastname@example.org