Interfaith tour explores religious heritage

2017-10-03 06:05

About 60 people from different religions celebrated Heritage Day by visiting historic institutions of faith around Cape Town through a bus tour that started from the Rondebosch Library.

The group of people, mostly pensioners, came from all religious and cultural backgrounds. They included Anglicans, Catholics, Hindu, Suni and Ahmadi Muslims and Jewish people.

The Heritage Day tour was organised by the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative.

According to Liza-Jane Saban, the tour created an opportunity for Capetonians to experience different religious sites and places of worship, and to introduce them to religious heritage.

“It was a great way to combat ignorance. People on the tour suddenly understood and realised their commonalities rather than their differences. All religions are based on love and charity. Each religious group is doing great community outreach in Cape Town. All places of worship were ­welcoming.”

She says the idea came from the knowledge that few people have entered a house of worship belonging to a faith other than their own.

The bus tour visited the Constantia kramat, St Michael’s Catholic Church, the Buddhist Centre, Eco Village Observatory and the Ahmadiyya Mosque in Rondebosch.

The last stop was the Ananda Kutir Ashram which practises and teaches integral ­yoga.

Gwynne Robins, council member of the Cape Town Interfaith Initiative, says: “The Heritage Day tour was a great opportunity for members of our diverse community to grow stronger as they were taken from their comfort zone to explore other religious communities and share in this enlightening ­experience.

“Next year, we would love to see more younger people attend the tour as it is a marvellous opportunity to meet and engage with people from different religious backgrounds face to face and learn that, fundamentally, we are all the same.

“As seen recently in Charlottesville, we need to work to promote interreligious and intercultural harmony. This tour will help break down that ignorance and introduce [the public] to the traditions of our fellow South Africans.”

One of the participants, Nic Paton, says he enjoyed every moment of the tour as it taught him about different cultures and faiths. He says he learned that though religions differ, there is a lot that people have in common when it comes to faith.

Paton encourages religious people to be open and willing to share their history and beliefs and to welcome similar initiatives.

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