This time for believers offers chances for insight

Posted On 15 Apr 2022 at 6:56 am

April is a very important month in the calendar for several different religious groups in our community and, although I am not religious, I’m always fascinated and sometimes very touched by the inspiring motivations behind some of the major events, including interfaith celebrations designed to foster stronger links and mutual understanding between groups.

The whole month is Ramadan, the most significant period in the Islamic calendar, marking the time when the Qur’an was first revealed to the Prophet.

Muslims fast each day between dawn and sunset and devote their time to religious contemplation and good deeds.

Ramadan was celebrated in Brighton last weekend by the welcome return (after covid) of the annual Iftar dinner at the Grand hotel, where people of all faiths and none are invited to join the Muslim community in interfaith discussion and to break the day’s fast at sunset. The theme this year was “rekindling community spirit”.

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The eight days of Passover, one of the most important festivals in the Jewish calendar, begin this week, too, opening with the traditional Seder ceremony and meal(s), and celebrating the liberation of the Israelites, led from Egypt by Moses, as described in the Book of Exodus.

This week and weekend also mark Holy Week in the Christian calendar, starting with Palm Sunday and continuing through to Good Friday and Easter Sunday and Monday.

For observant Christians, the week itself is also preceded by fasting and prayer, during the 40 days of Lent.

Like many people across our diverse city, I come from quite a mixed family background – from Italian Catholic, to eastern European Jewish, taking in a bit of Welsh Chapel Unitarian along the way.

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This could, of course, have led to a lot of discord but never did, somehow.

When my sister died a few years ago, her funeral service was a beautiful and non-denominational one, presided over by a retired female CofE vicar who had been a friend of long standing, and with the (Mourner’s) Kaddish recited by two cousins.

Despite the upset of a much-loved wife, mother and sister being taken too soon, it was a truly lovely send-off.

So, to those of these faiths in our city, I say Ramadan Mubarak, Chag Pesach Sameach and Happy Easter.

And to those of other faiths or none, I say talk to your friends and neighbours about your beliefs and theirs – conversation is always good and all religions have a story to tell.

Councillor Amanda Evans is the deputy leader of the Labour opposition on Brighton and Hove City Council.

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