Dialogue Across the Dinner Table Fosters Understanding of the Sikh Faith http://www.indoamerican-news.com/archives/14353 HOUSTON: About the same time that Bobby Singh began to describe the elements of about his own faith, eighteen other Sikh families across a broad swath of Houston were holding their own dialogues over dinner around their dining tables as they and their guests dug into their Punjabi meals. The words he used to describe the tenets of Sikhism, its history and its practice today merged with the aromas and taste of the food to bring together a cultural and religious impact for the non-Sikh guests at Bobby and Jasmeeta Singh’s home off Eldridge near Clay Road on the west side of town. The Singhs have been deeply involved in the InterFaith Ministries of Greater Houston ever since Jasmeeta was elected to serve on the Board of the non-profit organization to represent the Sikh community. The couple was actively involved as organizing co-chairs of the InterFaith Ministries Tapestry Gala held late last year at the Hilton Americas. Last November, the group decided to spread knowledge of other faiths through interactions in a more cozy and relaxed atmosphere in the homes of community members, over a traditional dinner with South Asians, using a cornerstone of IMGH’s outreach, the Dinner Dialogues. IMGH sees these Dinner Dialogues as a way to build relationships and strengthen the fabric of our city through a genuine exchange of ideas and understanding with one another. They decided to begin the first dialogues by focusing on the three religions that originated on the Indian Sub-Continent and started with Sikhism. The evenings were designed to be both educational and a time to build friendships and the dinners would feature thought-provoking interfaith dialogue, as well as, an opportunity to learn about the traditions and faith practices of Hindu, Sikh, and Buddhist families in Houston. The Dinner Dialogues feature conversations held in private homes with groups of 8 to 12 other Houstonians who gather to learn about the faith, practices and traditions of the community members while sharing a vegetarian meal. Each group discussion is facilitated by a moderator who creates a safe, non-confrontational space for all to share and listen. The purpose of the dinners is not to provide a comprehensive understanding of the faith traditions, but instead to highlight key beliefs and practices to begin an informative conversation among people of different faiths. The series has been very well received this year with nearly forty host homes from the Hindu and Sikh communities hosting private dinners and nearly four hundred participants to date. On the evening of Thursday, January 24 the nineteen Sikh families who hosted the dinner spoke about their personal experience with their religion and heard questions and comments from the others. The final dinners will be held by Buddhist families on Thursday, March 7 from 6:30 to 9:30pm. “It was a pleasure to host one of the dinner dialogue series at our residence,” said Bobby. “We thank IMGH for building bridges in our communities and facilitating the sharing of our beliefs. Jasmeeta and I believe we can chip away at ignorance by engaging all Houstonians in such faith-based exchange.” In addition to Bobby and Jasmeeta, others who took part in the January Dinner Dialogues were Kanta and Surinder Ahluwalia; Aku and Winnie Bedi; Jasdeep and Gurpreet Bhusri; Witty and Lubeena Bindra; Suhel and Sukie Singh; Gurmit and Seema Bhatia; Gurugian Khalsa; Gurmeet and Chanderjeet Kindra; Pritpal and Simi Kohli; Devinder and Jasdeep Lamba; Bhupinder and Taranjit Singh; Mandeep and Preeti Singh; Jagtar Singh Heir and wife; Harindar and Jasleen Singh; Mahinder and Hardip Singh and Mandeep and Manpreet Singh.