On the 6th December, we all travelled to Derby to visit The Open Centre. This is a charitable organisation which promotes understanding between different communities by celebrating and raising awareness of their faiths and cultural heritage.
When we arrived we met Emily our guide for the day who explained some of the things that we would expect to see and do in the local Hindu temple. After a short walk to the temple Emily pointed out the flag outside which signifies the building as a mandir and the Aum symbol; a sound and sign which Hindus believe is holy.
Inside the temple we sat on a large red carpet without the soles of our feet showing as we had been asked to do as a sign of respect. We noticed a large bell at the entrance which is rung as people enter the temple to show they are there and ready to worship. There were flags hanging from the ceiling and at the front there was a large altar with many statues of Hindu gods, known as Murti, displayed. We were able to watch people during Arti prayer and this was quite loud! There were women singing and playing instruments and later the Hindu priest lit incense, waved candles and rang a bell continuously in front of the deities.
After our visit to the temple we all went back to the Open Centre to learn about Judaism and what it is like in a synagogue. Boys and girls were asked to sit separately as this is what usually happens. We all learned how to say hello in Hebrew and found out that this language is read from right to left. We learnt about the Jewish scriptures and how they are written on special scrolls called the Torah. There was also the opportunity to try on prayer robes which were decorated with the Star of David and kippah skull caps. Everyone enjoyed tasting the plaited Challah bread that is eaten on the Jewish Sabbath.
After lunch the Infants took part in a Jewish wedding ceremony and found out about the different traditions starting with the signing of the ketubah. The bride is the last to enter and she walks around the groom seven times. The couple get married beneath a canopy called a chuppah which represents a home and they are blessed by a rabbi. At the end of the ceremony the groom breaks some glass under a cloth to show that bad times are behind them and finally the congregation shout their congratulations: ‘Mazel Tov!’
Meanwhile the juniors enjoyed finding out about the Hindu festival of Diwali. The workshop included listening to the story of Rama and Sita, trying on clothes that would be worn, making a collaborative Rangoli picture and tasting food that would be eaten at this special time – a popular activity!
We learned so much throughout the day about these two different faiths and were lucky to experience witnessing Hindu worship as well as many hands on activities as you can see in the photos!
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