Monday, 28 September 2009

Multifaith in Melbourne

On Sunday morning, I attended the Sikh Gurdwara at Blackburn
as a guest of my friend Jessiee Kaur Singh.
To find out more about Sikhism go here.
It was a beautiful experience.
The shrine pictured above contains the holy scripture entitled the Gurū Granth Sāhib
People come in (queues are separate for men and women and they sit separately),
place coins in a large receptacle, bow/kneel and go to their place of prayer.
Large screens are either side of the shrine with excerpts of the scripture
which are chanted.
The scriptures are displayed in the language of the Sikhs,
then in English, and then phonetically.
It was easy to chant along with the rest of the congregation.
Providing music and leading the chanting
are the three men pictured below.
The man behind the holy scripture read from the scripture.
There were announcements - but not in English, sadly.
And then little girls came around with boxes of tissue.
We took one and then a man came around with dollops of
sweet mixture from a bowl.  "Healing" whispered Jessiee.
A different take on Communion, thought I, since the Sacrament can
also be taken as Healing. 

Before the service I had seen people "laying the table" in a manner of speaking for lunch.
Each place was laid with a metal compartmentalised tray, a metal cup, and a spoon.

I counted sixteen places across eighteen rows.

But when I came from the service I found that there were a couple more rows.
Then where we ate was at tables.

It looks like the place settings go on forever.

I estimated that there were about 400 to 500 people fed at this sitting.

Apparently, about 5000 meals are served a week on
Wednesdays and Sundays.
Although, if people come to the Gurdwara and need
food on other days, they will be provided for.

Needless to say, with such crowds hand-washing
is important and extensive hand-washing facilities are provided.

All this happens by donation and helpers are on a rotation roster.
I spoke to a group of women relaxing after their morning roster.
They do the last Sunday of the month.

As you can see from the list of needs above, all this is donated.

After our meal, we went across to the Darebin Parklands
for an Aboriginal tree-planting ceremony.
Pictured above are Jessie Kaur Singh of
Reg Blow of the Maya Healing Centre; and John Bellavance of

was a beautiful and impressive woman
as she commemorated and committed the
Peace Tree to the earth.

Uncle Reg prays for the tree with the didj.

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