Westminster Interfaith: Promoting Dialogue Between People of Faith

The agency of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster for Interreligious Dialogue

Pilgrimage 2009

Pilgrims in the rain

Arriving at
Zoroastrian Centre
Rayners Lane


Serving Lunch

Sackhand Nanak Dham International serve lunch


Information time

Information time
Zoroastrian Centre


The building

An old Drill Hall
now Sri Lankan Mosque


Prayer Hall Sri Lankan Mosque

Prayer Hall
Sri Lankan Mosque


Imam speaking

Question and Answer session
Sri Lankan Mosque


Brent Sikh Centre

Arriving at
Brent Sikh Centre


Brent Sikh Centre

Shrine of the Guru Granth Sahib
Brent Sikh Centre


Reverencing the Shrine

Women sit on the left

Westminster Interfaith Newsletter

Issue 62 – July 2009

Pilgrimage – Afternoon venues

 

At lunch time, the three groups of the pilgrims converged on the Zoroastrian Centre, where the Zoroastrian community met us, many dressed in traditional costumes. Inside the Zartoshty Brothers' Hall, there was a great gathering of pilgrims, enjoying their meal and sharing experiences. It was a wonderful sight to behold and for many, the highlight of the pilgrimage.

I was almost dreading the next stage of the pilgrimage. If anything could go drastically wrong it was now. In the morning most of the visits were fairly close together and, in theory, we had small numbers. In the afternoon, the two places of worship were quite far apart. It involved a lot of travel on public transport with a couple of hundred pilgrims. In my mind, it was a logistical nightmare, even though we had done the journey several times already, either alone or with two or three others, never with a large group, who had never been there before. Thankfully, we all managed to get to our afternoon destinations on time and without any major incident.


 

The Sri Lankan Mosque is the only one of its kind in Europe. Previously, it was an army drill hall, which members of the local Muslim Community, not all Sri Lankan, were slowly and lovingly converting into a mosque and community centre. We were warmly received by Mr Mubarak and members of the local Muslim community, who showed us into an almost completed hall and prayer space and offered us refreshments. As always prayers were offered by the imam. There were some interesting talks and a question and answer session with the main speaker. Among the many different points he made, one sticks in my mind. He spelt out the word FAMILY as a sort of mnemonic: Father And Mother I Love You, to remind us how important the family is to all of us irrespective of our religious tradition.


 

As I was approaching the bus stop, with a group of pilgrims, to go on to the Brent Sikh Centre, I received two calls: one from the Metropolitan Police, who wanted to know where we were so they could accompany us on the last leg of our pilgrimage; and one from a pilgrim, still at the mosque, who informed me that someone had walked off with his shoes. He had found another pair similar to his but not the same size. They were too small. He could hardly get into them. Fortunately, the two pilgrims with the wrong shoes met on the bus and exchanged them before getting to our destination. Both pilgrims were happy and able to walk comfortably again.

At Harrow on the Hill bus station, there were at least 150 pilgrims waiting for a bus. I invited a group to join me and go by underground. Apparently, Bhikku Nagase decided to come with us, but he had trouble with his Oyster card and missed the train. I was amazed to see him, shortly afterwards, outside Kingsbury station, looking a bit lost. I jumped off the bus we were on and got him to join us. As we turned up Stag Lane we passed the main procession of pilgrims, who had come all the way by bus. We got off to join it and Bhikku Nagase was able to take his usual spot, at the head of the procession, with his drum and banner and lead us to our final rendezvous. Even though we took different routes, by different means of transport, somehow, we all arrived together, on time, at the elegant Brent Sikh Centre, where yet another warm welcome awaited us.

When I told Ajit Singh how concerned I had been about the logistics of the last leg of the journey and how amazed I was that it all worked out as planned, his comment was simple and to the point: "We are only instruments. God is in charge". How right he was. God had been there and taken care of us every step of the way.


 

P.C. Jones, from the Brent section of the Metropolitan Police, with other constables finally caught up with us outside the Brent Sikh Centre, where they joined us for some food and drink and a final act of worship in the Gurdwara, in the presence of the Sikh Word of God – the Guru Granth Sahib.

We were tired but felt good after a long yet stimulating and spiritually uplifting day. We had a lot to talk about and share with others, which we did on our way home. Nearly everyone seemed happy and is looking forward to next year's pilgrimage, when, many hope, we will all stay together as one group and perhaps not travel so much on public transport. I hope so too, but we shall see what the Lord provides. We do have a couple of offers and a few ideas, but we do welcome any suggestions you may have to make next year's pilgrimage 'special', because, next year, we shall be celebrating the Silver Jubilee of the annual multifaith pilgrimage for peace started by Brother Daniel Faivre.

Jon


Serving refreshments

Welcome refreshment
Brent Sikh Centre

See also Pilgrimage for Peace
Pilgrimage – Central London venues
Pilgrimage – North London venues
Pilgrimage – West London venues

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Pilgrimage 2009

Children Greeting

The groups meet up
Zoroastrian Centre


Settling down to lunch

Enjoying lunch
Zoroastrian Centre

 


The station platform

Pilgrims waiting for
the train


Pilgrims sitting on floor in Prayer Hall

Inside Sri Lankan Mosque
Whitefriars Avenue


Pilgrims sitting on floor in Prayer Hall

Attentive listeners
Sri Lankan Mosque


Brent Sikh Centre

Presenting our gift at
Sri Lankan Mosque


Brent Sikh Centre

Brent Sikh Centre
Stag Lane


Policemen join the pilgrims at Langar

Men sit on the right
in the Prayer Hall


Policemen join the pilgrims at Langar

Policemen join the pilgrims at Langar

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