This is the perfect example for the spirit of tolerance and respect for practices you may not follow either as a person of faith or a person of no faith.
You might recognize cites I have mentioned: Amritsar. home of the Sikh Golden Temple and the Garden, Chandigarh, Le Corbusier’s planned city, and Ludhiana mentioned in this newspaper article. In this state of the Punjab, Indians of many faiths live and worship together, Sikhs, Hindus, Jains, and followers of Islam. Please notice the proximity to Kashmir and the border with Pakistan. It was that border where we went for the ceremonial nightly border closing between India and Pakistan at Wagah.
Muslim people eat meat except pork, Hindu people mostly are vegetarians though some eat chicken, but no beef or pork, Jain people are total vegetarians . You might remember this picture I have posted before of very strict Jains who wear masks as they walk outside so as not to inadvertently swallow an insect. I have to admit that I don’t remember ever seeing this even at Palitana where the nuns and devotees climb the 4000 steps up the pilgrimage mountain to visit the 1000+ Jain temples.
I remember the very elaborate Hindu wedding we attended this trip with tables of food all around the venue . They were marked with the name of the cuisine. . . Meat, veg, Jain, Italian, Middle Eastern because their friends of various beliefs were in attendance. Everyone was to feel welcome. ( There are some Christians in the north of India, but there are many more in the South. )
Wherever am I going with this post, you may ask? Well tomorrow night at sundown begins the celebration of Rosh Hashanah for the New Year of 5776. “Umetah” or “A good and sweet year” to my Jewish friends!
What does this have to do with India? You might be surprised to know that there are Jewish people in India. The community is not large but they live and worship there in peace. Remember that India has the second largest Muslim community in the world behind Indonesia! I remember well the Saturday morning David and I were walking through the Muslim market in Amdavad and noticed the large facade of the Synagogue across from the Zoroastrian Temple. ( The Zoroastrian religion is an ancient, pre-Islam religion which began in Persia. ) It was at that moment, I realized that while visiting in India, I was living “Religions of the World!”
image of Amdavad Synagogue by Emmanuel Dyan
Am I advocating watering down your beliefs? No, but I think most faiths preach love of others. We should be working together for tolerance, respect, and love for others exemplified by the people of India!