Talk by Manjula Arora 3rd April 2019 entitled ‘Blossoming of the Jasmine Flower’

Manjula’s talk entitled ‘Blossoming of the Jasmine Flower’ explained the Bhagwad Gita concepts and their relevance to humanity. It was a very well attended event hosted by St Vincent’s Church in the Westleigh building in Altrincham. Time was allowed for questions and our hosts served light refreshments to complete the evening.

A short report follows written by Kaushik Chakraborty:

Altrincham Interfaith Group hosts talks from representatives of different faiths to help understand each other better and foster working together in the community.

With this aim, Dr Manjula Arora from the Hindu faith talked about her personal journey in search of God following the Hindu tradition. This was a well attended talk with around sixty people present on the evening of Wednesday the 3rd April in Westleigh, attached to St Vincent’s Church in Altrincham.

She talked about the ‘beauty of human existence on earth as it was meant to be’ introducing the salient points of Hinduism in the form of doing good ‘Karma’, thus creating a ‘bank’ of good deeds which could then free us from cycle of rebirths and attain Moksha (salvation).

She talked about the discipline needed to follow a virtuous path and help blossoming of the soul, titled by her as ‘blossoming of the jasmine flower’, contrasting material consciousness with spiritual consciousness which she said “was like a spark of pure light that sits in your heart” and imbues you with love, peace and joy. She urged us to eliminate boundaries – not to judge people by how they look or what they wear but to recognise the spirit in everyone; this would produce a shift in consciousness and be a more beautiful way to live.

In the questions and answers session, she discussed the existence of a Creator, and also the idea of reincarnation. She dispelled the common notion of polytheism in Hinduism, explaining there is only one God while other deities are corollaries, much like the saints in Christianity, who manage different aspects of life.

Manjula was presented with a lovely orchid as thanks for her talk, and then tea and coffee with biscuits was served by the ladies of St Vincent’s Church to whom we are most grateful. We also thank the Church for the venue which is much appreciated.

Kaushik Chakraborty, Hindu representative, Altrincham Interfaith Group

Thanking Manjula for her talk and presenting a small gift in appreciation

Alf Keeling Memorial lecture November 8th 2018 by Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen

Alf Keeling Lecture 2018.  Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen is Associate Rabbi at Manchester Reform Synagogue. The talk was entitled :

‘Interfaith in Action: Loving the Stranger Within’

A short report on the event by AIG Hon. Secretary Carolyn Jones

This year’s Alf Keeling Memorial Lecture was a truly interactive experience and very different from all previous events; Rabbi Robyn Ashworth-Steen from the Manchester Reform Synagogue engaged with her audience, shooting out questions and getting a wide variety of responses from people of all faiths, making it a stimulating and interesting event. Her theme was “Loving the Stranger Within” and there was a lot of discussion about the definition of the word “neighbour” and about being a “wanderer,”  especially in relation to being Jewish as Jews have a history of wandering even from the time of Abraham. The Bible tells the Jews to love the stranger for they were strangers in the land of Egypt, thus we all have a duty to love the stranger and be empathic to them, be they immigrants or foreigners, and try to cross the divide between them and us. Rabbi Robyn said that being a wanderer is part of being human -  feeling apart from other people – and that we should all see ourselves as wanderers with no distinction between them and us. She discussed work by Etty Hillesum (1914-1943) who died in Auschwitz and was an example of compassion and also Hannah Arendt who was a Jewish political theorist.  She closed by urging us to first love ourselves and then to love the stranger.  There was then a lively question and answer time and finally refreshments were served.

We thank Mr Driscoll of St Ambrose Preparatory School for allowing us the use of the hall and all those who helped to make the evening a great success.

Carolyn Jones (Hon. Sec., Altrincham Interfaith Group)

Visit to Whitworth Art Gallery 6th Sept 2018 : Textiles from the Islamic World.

Visit to Whitworth Art Gallery . A guided tour of the exhibition ‘Four Corners of One Cloth’ Textiles from the Islamic World. 

A group of members of Altrincham Interfaith Group and friends met up at Whitworth Art Gallery on the evening of September 6th for a tour of the exhibition  “Four Corners of One Cloth: Textiles from the Islamic World” given by Uthra Rajgopal, Assistant Curator of Textiles and Wallpaper.  This exhibition showcased different cultures from the Islamic world, and we started with a fragment of the Kiswa, the cloth that covers the Ka’bah, the most holy site in Islam, which is replaced each year during Hajj (pilgrimage to Mecca). Positioned in the direction of Mecca, it was in the centre of the gallery, and around it were various displays of cloths from places such as Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Yemen, as well as Uganda and Egypt. Of particular interest was a courtly dress from Iran that was covered with figures, and there was a lively discussion about representation of humans in Islamic art. Another unusual piece showed a fire hose on a piece of material -  this was considered a great asset to a town or village, hence its depiction.  We also saw how William Morris and his contempories were influenced by Islamic Art in their designs. It was a most enjoyable and informative tour and we thank Uthra for her time and expertise.

Carolyn Jones (Hon. Sec. Altrincham Interfaith Group).

Annual Shared Meal 17th Feb 2018

Annual Shared Meal on 17th February 2018 at Altrincham Grammar School for Boys. Our Guest Speaker was Waseem Ahmedi a representative from the Ahmadiyya Muslim Association. We made a profit of £690.58 and £200 was donated to the Mayor’s Charities.

The Chairman Azhar Rasul in conversation with our Guest Speaker