Light for Leeds 2021

Lord MayorClick on a picture to enlarge it

Sunday November 21 was a bright, sunny day for the Light for Leeds Interfaith Week event in Kirkstall Abbey’s visitor centre. There were display stands by the Christian, Sikh, Muslim, Brahma Kumari and Pagan faiths as well as Concord and Leeds Faiths Forum. As a Covid-19 precaution numbers in the centre were limited and it was recommended that face-masks were worn.

‘Care for the Environment’ had been suggested as a theme so I’d asked Concord’s faith representatives on the executive committee to provide a short ‘environment’ statement, from scriptures or other texts, to say what their faith thought and, if possible, a photograph or illustration to show what their faith community did on caring for the environment. I cut out a basic tree shape, put it on a blue background then added the quotations, the pictures, the faith symbols and gave it a title - A Tree is for Life. Needless to say, most of the quotes were far too long so the full versions, with the pictures, were made into booklets. These were included in the ‘goodie bag’ handed to visitors as they came in.

The eventual display was mounted on a board and placed between a Concord banner and one of our rainbow flags at the far end of the room. This was the spot where the Lord Mayor of Leeds stood to give his speech which, as he looked around at the bright diversity of displays and people, turned into an impromptu talk about his early life as a young Kashmiri immigrant. Growing up in multi-faith, multi-cultural Leeds, a working-class youngster in Beeston, he never imagined that one day he would be Lord Mayor of this wonderful city.

Although the numbers were limited, a steady stream of visitors came through all afternoon and not being crowded gave people a better opportunity to look and to talk. This year the Sikh musicians and Christian choir performed outside, with a fair few braving the cold to hear them. The Brahma Kumaris led meditative walks in the Abbey grounds as well as performing a poetry reading with musical accompaniment in the centre. The afternoon concluded, as has become the tradition, with a silent procession to the Chapter House where we gathered round the Tree of Hope to hear the evening call to prayer ..... a peaceful ending to a busy day.

Cynthia Dickinson

Pictures: Christian stall, Pagan stall, Brahma Kumaris, Christians and Concord, Brahma Kumaris, carol singing outside, Sikh musicians, Tree of Hope, Call to Prayer

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Cynthia Dickinson