The Inclusive University

Diverse Doors Open Day

Posted by Valerie Russell Emmott | 0 Comments
27Mar2015

Sunday the 22nd of February was Diverse Doors Open Day in Bristol. This is an annual event organised by the Bristol Multifaith Forum (

www.bristolmultifaithforum.org.uk).

 

It is an event that I have attended in previous years. This year, my experience was more structured as I aimed to see as many faith buildings as I could in the Eastville, Lawrence Hill and Stapleton Road area. I was travelling with a friend, so the places we visited needed to interest us both. We also wanted to visit places that felt comfortable and welcoming.

We started by visiting the Sikh Gurdwara on Fishponds Road. We were welcomed and shown the upper prayer hall. Our guide explained that Sikhs originally formed an army, and that they had been Hindu before they established themselves as Sikhs. While we were in the building we observed several people praying.

There was not a structured service in progress. Sikhs usually visit the Gurdwara on Sundays, possibly something copied from the colonial influence. The holy book the Guru Granth Sahib was pointed out to us. It is treated with great respect and has its own bed chamber close to the altar. Our Sikh guide helped me appreciate the importance of the sword in the Sikh religion.

We started by visiting the Sikh Gurdwara on Fishponds Road. We were welcomed and shown the upper prayer hall. Our guide explained that Sikhs originally formed an army, and that they had been Hindu before they established themselves as Sikhs. While we were in the building we observed several people praying.

There was not a structured service in progress. Sikhs usually visit the Gurdwara on Sundays, possibly something copied from the colonial influence. The holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib, was pointed out to us. It is treated with great respect and has its own bed chamber close to the altar. Our Sikh guide helped me appreciate the importance of the sword in the Sikh religion.

Our second venue was Shah Jalal Mosque, the one you might see from the M32 motorway as you approach Bristol. This building although fairly new showed signs of vandalism and disrepair. There was a tall fence around the compound, and from the side of the building it appeared to be closed.

Our first impressions were misguided. This was the venue where we received the biggest welcome. Our young guide, Mohamed, said that he was studying in Loughborough. We talked for some time with Mohamed. He was interested in our background as much as talking about his own faith.

Our next venue was another mosque – this time in St Mark’s Road. Finding the entrance was not easy. At first, we thought it was only men who could enter. When we found the entrance for women, it took us around the side of the building. We went in and found numerous shoes belonging to women. There were voices of women coming from an upstairs room. A regular meeting was in progress – but we found our way into a large ground floor room where several groups were talking with faith members. The Diverse Doors Trail bus had arrived at this venue.

We then stopped for lunch in the nearby Thali Cafe on St Marks Road, Easton.

After lunch, we walked on to find the Liberal (Progressive) Synagogue. The Diverse Doors Trail bus was at this venue as well. There was a large group of people who were already seated, but we found seats at the back of the room. Rabbi Monique Mayer introduced us to a song and we joined in. The Rabbi had a lot to tell us, and we tried to follow the "service" in the prayer book. But we were confused, as the page numbering was from back to front. We heard a lot, but I am not sure how much we learnt. The singing was a good way to engage the audience and I would have liked more of that. I think I would like to visit again either on an informal basis or to see a service in progress. Incidentally, this was the only venue where we did not need to remove our shoes or (as women) to wear a head scarf.

Our last venue was the Hindu Temple. We were welcomed by a woman who could speak very little English. We felt as if we were intruding on a family event, but we did wander up stairs to the prayer hall. We saw people using the building as individuals and as family groups. This was a valuable, albeit short visit with no one to tell me more than I already knew about Hinduism. I had been here before – when the resident Pandit (priest) had told me a lot about the Hindu faith.

I would certainly recommend attending a Diversity Open Doors event whenever you get the chance. It is an annual event. Joining the Diversity Trail might suit some people – but I think I enjoyed going around at my own pace. Most of the buildings I visited were within a ten minute walk from the nearest railway stations (Lawrence Hill or Stapleton Road). Travelling on the Severn Beach Line was only £2 return regardless of how far I travel.

Blog post by Heather Watts

If you missed Diverse Doore Open Day and you want to find out more about the faiths and beliefs of staff within this university, you might like to come along to meetings of the All Faiths and None (AFAN) Staff Network. We are a new group and we aim to meet monthly. New members are always welcome whatever your faith or belief.

To find out more contact:
Ian Yemm (

Ian.Yemm@uwe.ac.uk) who is the Coordinating Chaplain (Anglican) based in the Community Hub at Frenchay Campus;

 

Valerie Russell-Emmott (

Valerie.Russellemmott@uwe.ac.uk) who is the Equality and Diversity Manager within Human Resources;

 

Heather Watts (

Heather.watts@uwe.ac.uk) who works as a Technician in Education.

 

The next All Faiths and None meeting is on Wednesday April 29th from 12 – 1:30 pm on the Frenchay campus. Meetings are informal, feel free to bring your lunch, and drop in! Email

allfaithsandnone@uwe.ac.uk to get email updates about meeting dates and topics.