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Union Seminary reflects on the Parliament

June 9, 2010

by Jenn Lindsay in Union Now

The opening convocation of the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia was a colorful invocation of religions tradition.  The ceremony was blessed twelve times over, by Sikhs and Shintos and Muslims and a Catholic archbishop and a rabbi and the Zoroastrians and a group of Hindu children playing sitars and tabla drums. I was especially attuned to the Sikhs, as I had spent the 16-hour flight from Los Angeles to Sydney sitting in row 37 with a Sikh from Delhi named Kuldip, who lives today in Atlanta and works for General Electric.  When the flight attendant brought our airplane lasagna, we said a Sikh blessing over our food: Waheguru! It means to praise life, all life, the bad and the hard, because it all comes from God.  I noticed that my friend’s fingernails were neatly trimmed and asked why he is allowed to trim them but not allowed to cut his long hair, considered a limb and a gift of God, woven under the signature Sikh turban.  He didn’t know, and we both giggled. Friendship: achieved. During the flight, I leanred of the Sikh prophet, Guru Nanak, who strikes me as similar to Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed, who all respectively rose up against a tyrannical system and proposed a way devoid of robotic, constricting, fear-inducing identities.

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