A Little Less Serious And More Getting To Know Each Other


President Obama and his wife in Mumbai for the Diwali celebrations

Mumbai University celebrating the Festival Of Lights – Diwali

Since halloween I seem to have not done much other than eat – not that I am complaining. As a group we got together with our families and had a very nice halloween all together at a party at my home. My wife did us proud with a super feast of all things traditional and my Indian colleagues wanted to know how I had carved my pumpkins – they wanted some for their festival so  I offered to carve some more but I know they will not want minecraft and witchy ones I did for my kids. Not sure what to do – any suggestions welcome.

Halloween carved pumpkins  - Mincraft

As we are a mixed cultural, ethnic and religious group we try to appreciate and understand each others customs with an open heart and mind. This month has seen and is still seeing many festivals and observances from different religions. This is the month of Muharram in the Islamic calendar, we recently had Yom Kippur (20th Sept) the Jewish Day of Atonement, the 5 days Hindu festival of Diwali starts on the 9th November, this festivals celebrates the victory of good over evil.

The Turkish dish of Asure or Noahs Pudding

Asure or Noah’s Pudding

In Turkey a dish called Asure is made, this is also called Noah’s pudding and is said to be when Noah was starving on the ark and only had remnants of grains and bits of food from Noah made Asure and saved all from starvation. Christian communities in the east also make a similar dish I have been told called hedik, amah, or qamhiyyi.  The dish is normally made at home and shared with all neighbours and let me say it is very tasty – a little sweet for my tasted but mine had fresh pomegranate seeds in that gave a nice bite to it.

A celebration of the 5 days festival Diwala

A Diwali feast

The Festival of lights is a major celebration for some of my colleagues whom have invited us to share this with them. I am really looking forward to this but have been warned that there will be lots of festival food -I can’t wait.

I feel very honoured to be sharing this time with my colleagues and their families, I feel it is something we should all do more of. President Obama and his wife are currently in India so will have chance to see the festival in its home country. I respect how he has offered a recognition to the different beliefs and cultures here in America, last year  So if offered the chance to share one of these special times with your neighbours I suggest you take it – the warmth, the welcome and the chance to understand a little more about their lives and beliefs.





Respecting and Celebrating other cultures beliefs. Diwali in the White House 2014

Diwali in the white House 2014

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Ramadan in America.


As our President shares an Iftar meal with Muslim colleagues I thought I would take this post to look how Muslims in America celebrate Ramazan.This month is a very special one in the Muslim calendar; it is the scared ninth month. This is the month of Ramadan, when Muslims are expected to fast during the hours of daylight, avoiding food, drink and smoking. It is an intensely spiritual time for all Muslims even if they are not fasting. The bonds of family and community are strengthened at this time through mutual understanding and experience. The sharing of Iftar (the meal to break the fast) is very special to this, alongside Sahour the meal eaten before sunrise and the Fijr, first call to prayer.  Fasting is deeply personal spiritual experience, as one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith it is very important occasion. Fasting is not easy and more so in American than in the Middle East. In America the support system, the Muslim community can be widespread. American culture does not take into account that a person is fasting or needs to break his fast at a certain time. Expectations are that you continue as normal. To fast from sunrise to sunset takes strength and courage and support from others that are fasting, to know one is in a community is something that is not always available to our American Muslims, having your colleagues oblivious to what you are experiencing makes it twice as difficult. These two poems can give an insight into the difficulties faced by American Muslims, especially by the children. To give you some idea of the length of the day that the faithful have to fast, look here.

We asked our Muslim colleagues how we could show our respect for his fasting, his first reply was ‘you just have’. In an effort to be supportive we ensured that our drinks trolley and water fountain where removed from our meeting room, our colleagues said it was not necessary but we felt we wanted to offer a small sense of understanding. How can we function as the group we are if we do not recognize these important events and how they affect our colleagues? Tonight my wife is making an iftar meal for our colleagues, she has driven me mad! Lovely that she wanted to do it and the fact that my colleague’s family have gone round to help with the preparations is fantastic. I am looking forward to the meal and the one next week where we go to their home to share Iftar.

One thing certainly on our agenda is before next year’s Ramdan we will be looking at how the schools accommodate or don’t the teenagers who are fasting. If you read the poems I mention above, you will understand why this will be on the agenda. Also our colleagues found this article on driving while fasting very informative.

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Freedom to worship as we choose

Freedom to worship as we choose

Luc Besson = http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jan/13/luc-besson-writes-open-letter-to-young-muslims-after-charlie-hebdo-killings

Thomas Jefferson  = http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/jefferson/jeffrep.html

The Act for Establishing Religious Freedon  =

Freedom of worship or religous tolerence has been incorporated into our governence system Pilot for a long time. Going back as far as 1682 when William Penn wrote his Frame for Government combined before becoming Govenor of the Pennsylvanian Colony.This was writtian to formulate a governence that could be free from political mischief and to prevent a person from gaining absolute power, the concept behind this was the balancing of forces, a concept that the Framers of the US Constitution later used. Penn believed in religious tolerance on both pragmatic and moral grounds, he thought a society unimpeded by cheap mlb jerseys intolerance would be a prosperous society. Within his Frame of Government freedom to worship was absolute, although this was written within the boundaries of Christianity. The ammendmeets to the Constitution where influenced when Virginian state law included a bill for religious freedom cheap nba jerseys Thomas Jefferson and James Madison can be credited with this becoming state law in January 1786. The Act for Establishing Religious Freedon. The Law stated .”… no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever…nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” Make no mistake this was not straighforward or uncontested; at that time government office- holders had to swear to their beliefs with either the New or the OldTtestamen, most states collected taxes to support Christian churches so not everyone was happy at the changes. The First Ammendment passed in 1791 opens with the declaration that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” This was not the end of discussions, debates and clear challenges to the Ammendment but it did go ahead.  As a group we firmly believe ??? in respecting each others religious beliefs and whilst fostering this cheap nba jerseys approach also want to show together we can make positive changes for the betterment of all.

Whilst writing this post the world has been shocked and dismayed by the dreadful acts of terrorism and barbarism. The shooting in the offices Policy of Chrlie Habdo in Paris and the dreadful masacre of Nigerians begs us to ask what are we doing for this to be happening? Terrroism in the name of religion is a criminal act being hidden by a false moral code. Terrorists are criminlas who want to force their opinion on us. As Americans we have wholesale mlb jerseys had Og?oszenia this tried before and it did not work then and will not work now. Luc Besson, a French film director wrote a letter to young Muslims in France in the aftermath of the shootings, in it he says Terrorism will not win, “We cannot build our happiness on Flight the misfortune of others. It is neither Christian, nor Jewish, nor Muslim. It is just selfish and it leads our society and our planet straight into a wall. This is the work we have to do beginning today to honour our dead.Terrorism will never win…” Americans have suffered terribly at the hands of Terrorists but now is the time for all to work together to not allow the Terrorists the upper hand.  Insulting each other’s religion and beliefs is not the way forward.

Let us know you views and concerns, let us work together to create a better future for our children where their freedom to choose how to live, believe and worship is their right.

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