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28 October 2014

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You are in: Leicester > Faith > Features > Faith Swap!

Leicester Cathedral clock

Leicester Cathedral

Faith Swap!

We live in a multi-cultural country. But how often do people of one faith visit the place of worship of another faith? Listen as BBC Leicester's Rupal Rajani and John Florance visit the Cathedral and the Shree Sanatan Mandir on Catherine Street.

Although presenter Rupal Rajani had visited Christian churches before and John had been to a number of Hindu temples, neither professed to be expert in the others beliefs or places of worship.

Both said that taking the other around opened their eyes to buildings that were, perhaps, over-familiar.

Listen: Rupal visits the Cathedral

Listen as John shows Rupal around Leicester Cathedral...

First, John took Rupal into the Cathedral. He was at pains to point out that St. Martin's is no ordinary parish church but the mother church of the diocese.

Although it is the smallest cathedral in the country it is still considerably more elaborate than most parish churches.

Symbolism in the cathedral

Despite its modest size, the symbolism embodied in the cathedral is exactly that of every church.

The Ruby Service at Leicester Cathedral

Raising voices to the heavens

Virtually every aspect of the church fabric and fittings means something or has a specific liturgical function; from the stained glass windows to the altar, from the lectern to the candles.

Rupal was impressed by how peaceful the cathedral was and contrasted this with the noise and colour of a Hindu service or ceremony.

John said this was deceptive as a loud hymn accompanied at full throttle by the newly refurbished organ makes a glorious hullabaloo.

Churches aren't always places of peace!

Changes over the years

John also pointed out that changes in how services are conducted have resulted in changes to the cathedral. The High Altar at the far eastern end of the church is no longer the focus of many services so a new altar has been set up in the nave.

The officiating priests can now face the congregation, they do not have to turn their backs to them. The Eucharist, especially, is now something that happens in the midst of the congregation, not remote from it.

Listen: John visits the temple

Listen as Rupal shows John around a Hindu temple...

A Hindu god

A Hindu god

When Rupal took John to the temple on Catherine Street he was moved and intrigued by the apparent informality of the morning service.

The colour and beauty of the deities was entrancing and the rhythmic prayers, accompanied by a small group of musicians, and the ringing of two bells was very exotic.

Similarities as well as differences

And yet, what struck him forcefully was what the two religions had in common.

Christianity and Hinduism share a concern with light and its symbolism and they also share prayer attitude (hands together). Even the prayers and some essential beliefs are quite similar.

Of course there are differences, but it's important to emphasise commonality rather than play up what differentiates the religions.

Rupal said that she considered Hinduism less a religion more a way of life. The temple was a place of meeting and socialising as well as being a holy place.

last updated: 07/05/2008 at 10:30
created: 06/05/2008

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