Keeping Faith: A photographic record of Indian religious traditions in the US

Keeping Faith: A photographic record of Indian religious traditions in the US

India Blooms News Service | 17 Jul 2017

Kolkata, Jul 17 (IBNS): The ultimate aim of all religions is harmony said Avatar Singh, representing a popular Gurudwara in Kolkata, thus putting in a nutshell the theme of the photo-exhibition and an inter-faith meet organised at the city's The American Center recently.

Until July 27, The American Centre in Kolkata will hold an exhibition titled 'Keeping Faith: Indian Religious Traditions in the United States', which showcases not only how Indian-Americans practice their faith and traditions in the United States but also how Americans have adopted Indian faith and traditions.

Presented by the US Consulate, together with Meridian International Centre and Harvard University's Pluralism Project, the exhibition is a collection of photographs that highlight how "diverse faith traditions from India that have found their place in the fabric of the United States' pluralistic society," said Ambassador Stuart Holliday, President and CEO, Meridian International Center, in his introduction to the exhibition catalogue.

An interfaith dialogue with key representatives from different religious faiths was arranged as part of the inaugural ceremony in Kolkata.

In his address at the inaugural function, US Consul General Dr Craig L Hall said, "I hope this display lends to deeper understanding and appreciation of the wonderful influence India has had on the United States. The more our two countries share in the practice of our ideals, the more work we can do together to show the world our common commitment to engender tolerance toward all religions, allowing them to flourish with dignity and freedom."

Present at the inter-faith discussion were Fr Dominic Gomes, A Cohen (General Secretary, Jewish Community Affairs), Swami Muktidananda and Swami Shudhhidananda (Ramakrishna Mission), Avatar Singh (Gurdwara Jagat Sudhar) and Ven. P. Seewali Thero (General Secretary, Mahabodhi Society of India). Imam of Nakhoda Mosque could not attend owing to illness.

Photographed by individuals living in the United States, the exhibition 'Keeping Faith: Indian Religious Traditions in the United States' is a visual treat indeed, reflecting the Indian plurality through religious and social functions. Even if one is not religiously inclined, the aesthetic appeal is enough to merit a visit.

A Parsi Navjote initiation ceremony in Massachusetts, a Jain Paryushana celebration in California, an Anand Karaj or Sikh wedding in Virginia, floating lanterns in Ala Moana Park in Hawaii by Buddhist monks, people offering prayers at the Sri Lakshmi Temple in Massachusetts, police officers touring the BAPS Shri Swaminarayn Mandir in New Jersey, etc reflect how "India's faiths have set down roots in American soil," according to Dr Diana L. Eck, founder-director of the Pluralism Project, Harvard University.

The Exhibition in The American Center, Kolkata, was inaugurated by Chief Guest Goutam De, Regional Director, ICCR along with Dr Hall and representatives of the inter-faith team.

John F Kerry, Secretary of State, US Department of State said about the exhibition, "This is a testament to the priority we place on religious expression in the United States, and allows for a deeper understanding of the two great nations. This exhibit highlights the growing partnership between our two countries and presents an opportunity to emphasize our common commitment to democratic ideals, religious freedom and diversity." 

Keeping Faith: A photographic record of Indian religious traditions in the US

India Blooms News Service
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