Winter Festival celebrates different religions, cultures

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KP Singh speaks to students at the Winter Festival program hosted by Interfaith on Nov. 30. Photo by Andy Carr

KP Singh speaks to students at the Winter Festival program hosted by Interfaith on Nov. 30. Photo by Andy Carr

UIndy Interfaith held a Winter Festival on Nov. 30 in UIndy Hall to celebrate different religions and cultural holidays. The Winter Festival also featured speaker KP Singh, who spoke about the importance of religious pluralism.

Sophomore psychology and religion major Natalie Benson was in charge of organizing the event.

“The event was to bring together different religious traditions that have a holiday during the wintertime,” Benson said. “When you walk around campus you see mostly Christmas trees and Christmas music. And it’s [the event is] to acknowledge the other holidays that happen at this time, bring everyone together for one common goal. And then also KP Singh is very knowledgeable about his own faith.”

At the beginning of the event, people were allowed to walk around to booths and experience different traditions brought by campus and community organizations. The topics of the booths included food, activities or just learning about the traditions. Then everyone was asked to take a seat as Singh prepared to speak.

Singh spoke about faith, interfaith and their relevance to the future of communities, people and God’s children.

“By learning a little bit about each other, it can open all of kinds of possibilities and open all kinds of doors for us when we know a little something about another human being,” Singh said. “When we are able to relate to him [the other human being] with a little bit of sensitivity and a little bit of respect.”

After Singh spoke, there was a question-and-answer session for people to ask about Singh’s beliefs or just personal questions about his life. Along with speaking about religious pluralism, Singh also talked about his faith, which is Sikhism, and about himself. He told the story of how he was born in India and how he has been in Indiana for about 49 years now.

A final message that Singh wanted to leave was to encourage people to try new things and that new things are not meant to be bad.

“Wherever you are, know the person next to you,” Singh said. “Know his faith, know his culture and take the extra step to learn about it. Try to make friends. Try to make bridges, positive bridges, that allow you to walk towards each other, not away from each other. Furthermore, for those that have a position of power or a position of authority, they need to look at that in a positive constructive way to create a space at the table for newcomers. By doing that not only are you including them and maintaining their energy and their talents, [but] collectively this will add to the power, blessings and to the gifts for all of us. By combining those vibrations and understanding about each other, it can lead to good things for all of us. When we learn from one another, respect one another and share our wisdom. It can lead to good things.”

Students learn and share about different faiths and their holiday traditions at the Interfaith Winter Festival on Nov. 30. Photo by Andy Carr

Students learn and share about different faiths and their holiday traditions at the Interfaith Winter Festival on Nov. 30. Photo by Andy Carr

Junior psychology and pre-occupational therapy major Ellen Hodson said she enjoyed that different religions were represented and how they were given a chance to share their beliefs.

“It’s a great opportunity for people to come in and learn about different faiths,” Hodson said. “I don’t think many people spend time studying that, so I think it’s an easy way to gain knowledge. It’s also really cool that you can have all these religions come together in one room, and even though we have differences, we also share similarities.”

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