INTERFAITH CELEBRATION: SHARING EXPERIENCE
Troy temple draws diverse crowd to eat and understand together
BY ALEXA CAPELOTO
Incense, sitar music and the aroma of Indian food welcomed those who entered Bharatiya Temple in Troy on Wednesday.
Eventually, American Indian chants, Baha'i prayer and Jewish song filled the Hindu temple as well, as hundreds celebrated Thanksgiving a day early by bringing their faiths under one roof.
This year's interfaith Thanksgiving celebration, a 15-year tradition in metro Detroit, was a vivid reminder that the holiday belongs to Americans of all faiths and cultures.
Religious communities shared food, music and stories with each other in celebration of their similarities and differences. The emphasis was on learning new things under the theme "listening to understand."
"The implication is that we are not listening to people concerning their history and background," said the Rev. William Gepford of Littlefield Presbyterian Church in Dearborn. "There are lots of ways to be spiritual. There are people who have different experiences, and we want to hear that."
In place of the usual keynote speaker, three people told stories of how their backgrounds -- Muslim, American Indian and Hindu -- shape their lives.
After the presentations, the more than 250 attendees shared an Indian-inspired Thanksgiving meal, including nan, pita-style bread, and laddu, a sweet concoction.
In its early years, the celebration aimed to unite Christians, Jews and Muslims.
As the metro area diversified, Baha'is, Sikhs, Hindus and American Indians joined in. This is the first year the meal was not hosted by a church, mosque or synagogue.
"We are coming into a world setting where a common understanding and respect of all religions is important," said Madan Kaura, a 20-year member of the temple.
Donations collected during the event will go toward relief efforts for victims of the devastating earthquake in India in January.
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