TORONTO – The first-ever Ramadan Iftar event that brought Muslims and Hindus together with other ethno-cultural communities at a Hindu temple was held on Sunday evening at Pickering’s Devi Mandir.
Pickering is a city located immediately east of the City of Toronto on the north shore of Lake Ontario.
“This is a very significant event as it brings together members of the Muslim and Hindu communities as well as other cultural backgrounds,” Ontario Minister of Government and Consumer Services, Hon. Tracy MacCharles, told the gathering. “It is a great display of heritage, tradition and inclusiveness.”
Intercultural Dialogue Institute GTA (IDI GTA), Indo-Canadian Cultural Association of Durham and Devi Mandir, hosted the Intercultural Ramadan Friendship Dinner at the temple.
“I want to acknowledge IDI-GTA and Indo-Canadian Cultural Association of Durham for your continuing efforts to bring people together,” added Minister MacCharles.
“Tonight’s example is evidence of dedication to Pickering and Durham and surrounding areas.”
“In a world that we know that is filled with unrest, your aim to foster dialogue, cross-cultural awareness is another step towards tolerance,” noted the Minister.
“Ramadan reminds us to be grateful for our numerous blessings and to put others first.”
Ramadan is the holiest month in Islamic calendar.
In Ramadan, adult Muslims, save the sick and those traveling, abstain from food, drink, smoking and sex between dawn and sunset.
Muslims dedicate their time during the holy month to become closer to Allah through prayer, self-restraint and good deeds.
Around the globe, Muslims observe Ramadan with a set of traditional rituals including family gathering at iftar, religious lessons, special evening prayer and helping the poor, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
Attendees of various faith and ethno-cultural backgrounds had a chance to learn something about the Muslim and Hindu traditions during the evening’s program and broke the fast together.
A tour of the temple was conducted by Shashi Bhatia, founding Chair of the Indo-Canadian Cultural Association of Durham, prior to the start of the event.
Nisha Sharma of Devi Mandir extended a warm welcome to the gathering on behalf of the temple.
”Very special greetings on behalf of Devi Mandir and an absolutely warm welcome,” she said. “This evening’s event is the first step in cultivating a yielding and charitable disposition towards each other.”
“Devi Mandir is extremely honored that you have chosen our beautiful Mandir and have given us the opportunity to host this very sacred event this evening,” continued Nisha.
“This will become part of Devi Mandir’s rich history and mark the beginning of a very successful alliance which will not only benefit the community at large but will benefit generations to come.”
“This partnership sends a strong message that on this earth we are all God’s children.”
“I am very pleased to be a part of this history making event this evening and we, at the Devi Mandir, are more than privileged to be breaking bread with you this evening as you celebrate this very auspicious occasion,” she added.
“Please consider this an open invitation to join us for any of our religious events at Devi Mandir, for our home is yours.”
Every year, Intercultural Dialogue Institute GTA in collaboration with various local partners hosts a series of Ramadan intercultural and interfaith dinners in different parts of GTA.
According to IDI, “the dinners bring together people of various faith and ethno-cultural backgrounds and serve as a means of fostering dialogue and cross-cultural awareness in our multicultural society.”