An interfaith Civic Reception at Glasgow City Chambers has become a staple in Glasgow’s Scottish Interfaith Week Calendar, thanks to the support and generosity of Glasgow City Council and Glasgow’s Lord Provost. Dialogue events often incorporate the theme of Scottish Interfaith Week – which changes each year – and offer an opportunity to generate new interest. For example, in 2021, the year of the UN climate conference COP26 in Glasgow, the theme of the week is ‘Together for Our Planet’. This has given us occasion to reach out to many people who may not be interested in interfaith dialogue per se, but who care about protecting our planet and understand that all faith communities have a role to play in building the global climate movement (See Climate Crisis).
We usually wrap-up our Scottish Interfaith Week programme with our biggest indoor event of the year: our Interfaith Family Fun Day. Up to 300 people join us in a school hall over the course of an afternoon, and the space is always buzzing with conversation, people sharing good food and enjoying diverse entertainment.
At the heart of our annual Family Fun Day are ‘faith table workshops’ at which children and their families learn about different religious traditions through participation in arts and crafts activities. Specially chosen to illuminate a particular aspect of a tradition, past activities have included, for example, making Baha’i prayer beads, Christmas tree decorations, Sikh kalgis, and mini Torah scrolls; painting Hindu diya lamps and Pagan stones; and having a go at Arabic calligraphy. A ‘Try it on’ area, moreover, offers people a chance to try on clothing from diverse cultures and religions, such as Sikh and Sufi turbans, Jewish kippahs, Muslim hijabs, Japanese kimonos, Indian saris, and Christian altar vestments. The event is supported by fantastic volunteers from Glasgow’s faith communities who demonstrate the craft activities and help people try on the clothing from their tradition, explaining their significance. Participants are always impressed by seeing so many traditions together in one colourful, welcoming space. As one participant said: “seeing my tradition represented alongside others in an atmosphere that is so fun and engaging for people of all ages is like a breath of fresh air.”