Chicago: Dr. Suresh Reddy, Dr. Anuja Gupta, and Mr. Ashfaq Hussain Syed, under the auspices of Verandah Community Outreach, organized Interfaith Iftar Celebrations in April 25th at Hanover Park, Chicago. Around 75 community leaders and friends of South Asian Origin came together with the hope of fostering unity amongst people of diverse communities and to help foster fellowship and oneness.
“At the core of all religious faiths and traditions is the recognition that we are all in this together and that we need to love and support one another to live in harmony and peace in an environmentally sustainable world,” said Dr. Suresh Reddy, the Past President of American Association of Physicians of Indian Origin and current Town Trustee Member of Oak Brook in Illinois.
Quoting the United Nations, Dr. Suresh Reddy said, “Our world continues to be beset by conflict and intolerance with increasing violent spots in a hostile and unwelcome world around us. The need for spiritual guidance has never been greater”. He shared his own experiences of Iftar celebrations in Hyderabad, India.
Ashfaq Hussain Syed, community leader & Vice President of a Bank, underlined the imperative need for dialogue and appreciation among different faiths and religions to enhance mutual understanding, harmony, and cooperation among people.
Azam Nizamuddin said that the purpose was to celebrate Iftar together and reflect on how we can unify and support our community to heal after the long and challenging pandemic. “We hope to continue these thoughtful conversations throughout the year to build bridges that are long-lasting,” he added.
Swami Ishatmanada, Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago, community leaders from Palatine Gurudwara, Pastor Larry Bullock and spoke about the need for fostering unity, harmony, and understanding of each other’s culture and faith.“We fast from all the things that are getting in our way,” they said. “We fast from the habits of mind and habits of being that get in our way or in other people’s way in terms of the spiritual life,” they added.
They stressed the importance of interfaith cooperation and compassion and shared about their work in supporting peoples of all faiths worldwide. “We need to be grounded in our faith. We need to have self-care and keep our spirits high, have a positive attitude, and we can overcome violence and hatred in the name of religion,” they underscored.
Dr. Anuja Gupta welcomed the guests and shared her experience of Ramadan back in Mumbai, India. “We must diversify our efforts to spread the message of good neighborliness based on our common humanity, a message shared by all faith traditions,” she said.
Sikh community leaders from Palatine Gurudwara and Pastor Larry Bullock also spoke on the importance of interfaith and appreciated the host for the initiative.
Iftar is the fast-breaking meal observed each evening at sunset during the holy month of Ramadan. The Interfaith Iftar Dinner is an opportunity for different communities to join their Muslim friends for an evening meal as they break their Ramadan fast. The participants had Iftar, prayer, and enjoyed the dinner together, a traditional meal.