On Saturday February 3rd members of Altrincham Interfaith group were privileged to be invited to see the production of “Yugpurush” which was being presented at the Wythenshawe Forum, Manchester, for one night only.   This was timed to coincide with Hate Crime Awareness Week.

The play is subtitled Mahatma’s Mahatma,  and is about the special relationship between Shrimad Rajchandraji, and Mohandas Gandhi who later was known as Mahatma (venerable or high-souled) Gandhi. Gandhi first met Shrimad on the 6th July 1891, when he was 21 and had returned to Bombay from London having trained as a barrister. Shrimad impressed him by his amazing memory as well as his spirituality and wisdom.  They corresponded by letter when Gandhi moved to South Africa and Shrimad became his spiritual guide. Gandhi wrote of Shrimad “The more I consider his life and his writings, the more I consider him the best Indian of his times. “  Shrimad died young, aged on 33, but his writings continued to influence Gandhi, and he contemplated them again and again throughout his life.

In the play, we saw Gandhi as an old man, reminiscing about his life and friendship with Shrimad until his death by an assassin’s gun, which was truly shocking. During the play we heard many philosophical discussions between the two men – the timeless nature of the soul was stressed, and the importance of truth, compassion and non-violence for which, of course, Gandhi was renowned.  The production was very well directed, the sound quality was suberb and we found the whole experience to be very moving.

Carolyn Jones (Honorary Secretary)


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The Alf Keeling memorial Lecture 2017 – “Science and Spirituality in Hinduism” by Dr Girdari Bhan.

On the evening of November 9th, the hall of St Ambrose Preparatory School was filled for the occasion, with over 70 people attending the lecture which was timed to celebrate Interfaith Week 2017. Azhar Rasul, Chair of Altrincham Interfaith Group, welcomed Dr Girdari Bhan and then Poonam Kakkar, a Hindu member of the AIG committee, introduced Dr Bhan and described all he had done for interfaith, working in interfaith both locally and nationally, being co-Chair of the Interfaith Network for the UK and Patron and Ex-President of the World Hindu Council UK among many other roles.

Dr Bhan began his talk by stating how Interfaith was an opportunity to inform people about who we are. He said how there was a widespread assumption that Science and Religion were at loggerheads, and cited the debate between Creation and Evolution as an example. He pointed out that Science is based on reason and is validated by experiment and evidence, it deals with the material world. Religion is based on faith and revelation. Spirituality, however, deals with philosophical issues.

He explained how the ancient Hindu texts are packed with scientific knowledge, with no dividing line between science and spiritual knowledge. The seers held, however, that science must be validated, and withstand all challenges. The Hindu view is that the universe goes through cycles of creation and destruction, that time and space are relative, with no fixed span.

He then said how the ancient texts described many of the features of our cosmos -  the existence of atoms, the concept of planetary motion, the evolution of complex from simple life forms. He said how ancient civilizations had mastered many advanced techniques including brain surgery, metallurgy, dentistry (teeth with fillings had been found, thousands of years old),were aware of the existence of disease-producing entities (i.e. germs) and emphasised the importance of hygiene. In mathematics, the concept of zero was recognized and the ancients could calculate up to 1053.

He said that Hindus believe that knowledge comes from the Supreme Being and that we just discover things that are already there. We are also confirming ideas expressed long ago by the ancient seers.

After a brief foray through the world of astronomy and particle physics, and comparing the Old Mechanistic View with the Modern View, Dr Bhan concluded that everything is subject to the cosmic laws of nature. Humans are not the centre of creation, and he reminded us that human rights are not superior to the rights of other beings. He urged people to be open minded, and to treat knowledge with respect. There should be no conflict between science and religion.

After a few questions, Azhar thanked Dr Bhan for a most interesting address and he was presented with a beautiful lily. We then mingled and chatted with drinks and biscuits.

Many thanks to all who helped to set up the hall, provide and serve the refreshments, and to St Ambrose Preparatory School for allowing us to use their facilities.

Carolyn Jones

(Hon. Sec., Altrincham Interfaith Group)

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Altrincham Interfaith Group Cultural Entertainment Evening July 6th 2017

The Hall at Timperley Methodist Church was filled to capacity on the occasion of AIG’s Cultural Entertainment Evening which was a rousing success. Ably hosted by Ann Angel, we saw the Hindu Community present a Devotional Song in Hindi performed by Piyush and Mana followed by a Kathak Dance performed by Sunita, Sadhna and Poonam in glorious traditional dress. Then we saw two young dancers, Aahi and Rijuta, who were amazingly skilled as they whirled and spun around in their yellow and orange dresses, performing a Sargam Dance. Ann then took to the stage to tell us a moving story from the Jewish Folk tradition which held us all spellbound, after which there was a break for refreshments – very welcome on a hot and humid evening.

The second part of the evening comprised a contribution from the Muslim community, reading and singing poems and songs composed by Rumi, a famous writer in the Sufi tradition. This was beautifully and movingly performed by Daniel and Saimma Dyer on guitar and frame drum and then we heard the Manchester Stake Choir of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sing a selection of well-known songs. The evening was rounded off with everyone joining in with the Beatles “All You Need is Love!” – what a perfect end to a fantastic evening!

Thanks to all who helped to make this evening a spectacular success, especially all the performers, Timperley Methodist Church for the venue, Cath Pridgeon and her team for refreshments and Ann Angel for her meticulous planning of the event.

Carolyn Jones

(Hon. Sec., Altrincham Interfaith Group)


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An Evening of Cultural Entertainment, Thursday 6th July


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Altrincham Interfaith Group visit to St Peter’s Church, Hale, May 10th, 2017.

It was a beautiful Spring evening when over 40 members of Altrincham Faith Group, comprising various faith traditions, descended on St Peter’s Church, Hale, as the guests of the Minister Rev. Keith Addenbrooke and his congregants, to learn about the history of the Church and its traditions.

We were given a very warm welcome, and Rev. Keith began his talk by describing some of the meanings of the word “church” before telling us about the history of the actual building itself – how the coming of the Cheshire Midland Railway meant that the area around Peel Causeway station was ripe for urbanisation and local people therefore got together to build a place of worship. Meetings began in 1889 and the foundation stone was laid on November 29th 1890, with St Peter’s Church being finally dedicated in 1892. He went on to describe the Church’s “DNA” – various key events that characterised the church which now can be said to be “middle of the road” as far as the spectrum from low to high church is concerned. He then showed us various features of the church – the candles and processing cross which had recently come from St John’s Church, now closed, and the platform which was put in in 2011 and allowed the minister to engage more fully with the congregation. We were invited to walk around in order to admire the many beautiful features of St Peter’s – the stained glass windows depicting angels, the marble pulpit and golden lectern in the form of an angel. After a lively question and answer session we were invited to the adjoining building where a lavish spread of cake and biscuits (including kosher varieties), fruit, and hot and cold drinks were laid out for us, and people could sit down together and chat. The evening closed with the AIG Chairman, Gordon Levy, giving a vote of thanks.

It was a delightful and informative evening and we are most grateful to Rev. Keith Addenbrooke for hosting the event and to the congregants for their kind and generous hospitality, especially for providing kosher biscuits and milk which was much appreciated by the Jewish members of the group.

Carolyn Jones

(Hon. Sec., Altrincham Interfaith Group)


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