Writer of the Isle of Wight County Press, Kate Young writes about how one UK primary school celebrated Interfaith Week. Throughout the week, the students of Brighstone Primary School received visits from local faith community leaders and learned about the various faiths and traditions.
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Brighstone Primary School inter faith week explores religions
Avy Sesetti, 11, from Brighstone Primary School has spoken to fellow pupils about his Hindu faith as part of the school’s Inter Faith Week activities.
The nationally organised event aims to increase awareness of the different faith communities in the UK, in particular celebrating the contribution which their members make to their neighbourhoods and to wider society.
Avy and his mum Sunitha were two of seven speakers who visited the school to talk about Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
The Year 6 pupil showed his classmates a small hand bell – Ghanta – used in Hindu rituals and also a small drum called a damaru.
Avy also talked about Diwali, the five-day Festival of Lights which is celebrated by millions of Hindus, Sikhs and Jains across the world each year.
Pupils learned about the Islamic faith from Mr Muhammed Bahar, Imam at the local mosque in Newport.
He talked about important events in the Islamic calendar, such as the festival of Eid al-Fitr which takes place at the end of Ramadan.
Children asked questions about Islamic prayer, including how often Muslims pray each day, and about pilgrimage (Hajj) to Mecca, which most Muslims undertake at least once in their lifetime.
He also showed children the Qur’an and a special prayer mat which must face Mecca during prayer.
Local vicar, Reverend Jackie Maw, and Peter Johnson spoke about Christianity, talking about the religion’s history and how their own faith has played a part in their lives, as well as talking about Christian symbols and artefacts.
Representing the Jewish faith, Jonathon Bluestone, Chair of the Isle of Wight Jewish Society, talked about how the Sabbath is celebrated and also showed children the Torah scroll, the holiest object in Judaism.
Mrs Rebecca Lennon, headteacher at Brighstone Primary School, said: “It was wonderful to welcome representatives of different faiths to our school as part of our Inter Faith Week activities.
“I was particularly proud of Avy for giving such an interesting and confident presentation to the school community about his faith; he certainly represents our school values of love, courage and respect.
“We thank him, his mum and all of the other speakers for taking the time to talk to our children about their faiths.”
As part of the week’s activities, Nando Habeahan, from Indonesia also visited Lemur class (Year 3/4), showing pupils photographs of the country and his home there, and then discussed the Muslim and Christian divide there.
He then compared his time in Indonesia to being in the UK, and how Christianity is celebrated differently in the two countries.
The children asked lots of thoughtful questions and, by the end of the week, the whole school had discovered lots of similarities between the faiths as well as some differences.