Festival of Faiths: Cincinnati, OH
Sathya Sai Center of Cincinnati-Dayton participated in an interfaith community event, Festival of Faiths (FOF), on September 8, 2019. The event was organized by a non-partisan civic organization called EquaSion1, formerly known as Bridges of Faith Trialogue. More than 2,500 people filled the Cintas Center at Xavier University where 100 faith-based exhibits were displayed by 26 faith-based communities representing 13 world religions. Attendees watched cultural musical and dance performances; participated in multi-faith devotional sessions and workshops on promoting inclusiveness; and engaged in compassionate conversations. The festival’s theme was “Compassion through Action: Becoming a Beloved Community” and aimed to enhance interfaith unity and collaboration. It aligned so closely with the Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings on loving service and Unity of Faiths, that the Sai Center could not pass up on the opportunity to host a booth at the event.
Five Sai Spiritual Education (SSE) students from Group 4 (ages 15-18 years), and 8 Sai Center adult members manned the booth, fielding inquiries from several visitors who were curious to learn more about Sathya Sai Baba and His teachings. The booth displayed several books on Sai Baba for the visitors to peruse. The SSE youth also distributed a brochure they had put together on the five human values. Sai Center members shared information about the Sathya Sai International Organization (SSIO) and its goal of promoting self-transformation through selfless service and love, and transforming society through recognizing the divinity inherent in all. For the SSE youth, the experience of synthesizing their own spiritual understanding of Sai Baba’s teachings and explaining it to the larger public was particularly impactful. Similarly, visiting the various booths also opened their eyes and provided a first-hand understanding of the unity of faiths in their shared emphasis on love and service. The youth expressed how much they enjoyed their conversations with the visitors, and how proud and inspired they were to share the goals and principles of the SSIO, as evidenced by the following comments.
- “The Festival gave me hope that one day, everyone on this planet will live in harmony despite all the differences.”
- “Sharing the message of SSIO with a community of people who follow Sai Baba’s teachings on Unity of Faiths without knowing it, was a great experience.”
- “Through this event, we were able to see how so many different faiths are so closely aligned with the SSIO’s goal of realizing inner divinity through love and service.”
- “The Festival reinforced the idea that it is possible to create a world where a plethora of different people and faiths can co-exist.”
- “The Festival was truly an eye-opening and insightful experience. It gave me exposure to other faiths and a first-hand understanding of the truth that all faiths are deeply interconnected.”
1 EquaSion is a non-partisan civic organization founded upon interfaith dialogue that works to develop educational and community service programming to foster greater understanding, respect, compassion, inclusion and engagement for all people and faith communities in Cincinnati and beyond. Its programs and activities are informed by an ongoing conversation among Cincinnati civic leaders of diverse faith traditions.
For more information on the Festival of Faiths, please visit https://www.cincifestivaloffaiths.org/
Video on Festival of Faiths, Cincinnati, Ohio, 2019, produced by EquaSion.