January 31, 2015 | By Harnoor Gill
A couple weeks ago, I had one of the greatest opportunities ever: to speak about my own religion at the World Religion Day event in Milton, Ontario.
It was wonderful to speak about my Sikh faith while learning about other religions as well. I welcomed the opportunity to speak at this event, which was held by the Baha’i community of Milton, while hearing what each speaker had to say about the question, “What is the role of religion in today’s world?”
Ron Speer at Dunnville, Ontario, first introduced me to this event back in 2011 and I was the youngest speaker there. Only in grade 8, I was able to let the audience in the room know what it’s like to be a Sikh in today’s world. Everyone at that event was taken aback that a 14-year-old boy was on the podium speaking for 2-5 minutes on an interesting topic. From that point on I decided that I wanted to participate in World Religion Day again and the opportunity presented itself. Two weeks ago at the Milton Senior’s Centre I gave the same speech again and at the age of 17 was still the youngest speaker at the event.
I expressed my faith by explaining how it’s the world’s fifth largest religion and how it is quite young in age considering it’s barely 500 years old. My answer to the question regarding the role of religion in today’s world was that each faith informs people about a specific spiritual path. For the individual it means that certain beliefs and values help the believer to connect with God through a religious lifeline. Now it may sound weird that God would be throwing lifelines. But what I was trying to say in terms of a lifeline is that whether one is a Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Baha’i or of any other faith, all these religions have both unique lifelines and a singular similarity. There is only one God and it is He who grants us our wishes through prayer or brings us our good times or bad times through karma(s).
I really enjoyed being able to participate in this interfaith celebration of unity. The Town Council of Milton proclaimed it again as a special day. The aim for this event was to be able to establish interfaith understanding amongst religions and discuss the question that many ponder about how religion plays a role in today’s advancing world of science and technology. I also liked being able to hear answers to this question from practicing Christians, Hindus and Baha’is.
At the beginning, middle and end of this 2015 celebration of World Religion Day, everyone enjoyed soothing music from Smith and Dragoman. They really brought life to the event through songs about spiritual struggles in various faiths and how it can be hard to be in one piece at the end of the day. It was definitely eye-opening for me to observe and to witness so much knowledge and power in a room while discussing interfaith beliefs and learning so much all at the same time! It definitely was something I have marked on my calendar for next year and so should all of you.
Be sure to find out about your local World Religion Day event in 2016!
* HARNOOR GILL is a Grade 11 student at Christ The King Catholic Secondary, Georgetown, Ontario.