Faith & Cultural Awareness

Leo Tolstoy..."Faith Does not consist in the things you hesitate to believe in, but in those things you are certain of!"

Culture...the Latin 'cultura' stemming from 'colere' meaning "to cultivate"...explore here, the many featured Religions & Ethics 

Faith & Cultural Awareness

On the 27th October, 1986 Spiritual Leaders from each of the World's twelve major Religions came together for the first time in history, to share their most sacred prayers for the "Day of World Peace"...celebrated in Assisi, Italy, in commemoration of the United Nations International Year of Peace.




Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred...let me show love.

Where there is injury...pardon.

Where there is

Where there is despair...hope.

Where there is darkness...light.

Where there is

Devine Master, grant that I may not so much seek.

To be to console.

To be to understand.

To be to love.

For it is in giving...that we receive.

It is in pardoning, that we are pardoned.

It is in dying...that we are born to eternal life.




Be Generous in Prosperity, and thankful in adversity.

Be fair in judgement, and guarded in thy speech.

Be a lamp unto those who walk in dardness, and a home to the stranger.

Be eyes to the blind, and a guiding light unto the feet of the erring.

Be a breath of life to the body of humankind, a dew to the soil of the human heart, and a fruit upon the tree of humilty.




May all beings everywhere plagued with sufferings of body and mind be quickly freed from their illnesses.

May those frightened cease to be afraid, and may those bound be free.

May the powerless find power, and may people think of befriending one another.

May those who find themselves in trackless, fearful wilderness...the children, the aged, the guarded by beneficial celestials, and may they swiftly attain Buddhahood.




Blessed are the PEACEMAKERS, for they shall be known as the Children of  God.

But I say to you that hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those that abuse you.

To those that strike you on the cheek, offer the other one also, and from those that take away the cloak, do not withhold your coat as well.

Give to everyone who begs from you, and of those who take away your goods, do not ask for them again.

And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.




Oh God, lead us from the unreal to the real.

Oh God, lead us from darkness to light.

Oh God, lead us from death to immortality.

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti unto us all.

Oh Lord God almighty, may there be peace in celestial regions.

May there be peace on Earth.

May the waters be appeasing.

May all beneficent beings bring peace to us.

May the Vedic Law propagate peace all through the World.

May all things be a source of peace to us.

And may thy peace itself, bestow peace on all and may that peace come to me also.




Peace and Universal Love is they essence of the Gospel preached by all.

Enlightened Ones.

The Lord has preached that equanimity is the Dharma.

Forgive do I creatures all, and let all creatures forgive me. 

Unto all have I amity, and unto none enmity.

Know the violence is the root cause of all miseries in the world.

Violence, in fact, is the knot of bondage.

"Do not injure and living being."

This is the eternal, perennial, and unalterable way of spiritual life.

A weapon, howsoever powrful is may be, can always be superseded by a superior one;

but no weapon can, however, be superior to non-violence and love.




Come let us go up to the maintain of the Lord, that we may walk the paths of the Most High.

And we shall beat our swords into plowshares, and our spears into pruning hooks.

Nation shall not lift up sword against Nation.

Neither shall they learn war anymore.

And none shall be afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of Hosts has spoken.




In the name of Allah, the beneficient, the merciful.

Praise be to the Lord of the Universe who has created us and made us into Tribes and Nations.

That we may know each other, not that we may despise each other.

If the enemy incline towards peace, do thou also incline towards peace, and trust God, for the Lord is the one that heareth and knoweth all things.

And the servants of God.

Most gracious are those who walk on the Earth in humility, and when we address them, we say "PEACE."




Although the people living across the ocean surrounding us, I believe are all our brothers and sisters, why are there constant troubles in this world?

Why do the winds and waves rise in the oceans surrounding us?

I only earnestly wish that the wind will soon puff away all the clouds which are hinging over the tops of mountains.




Almighty God the Great Thumb we cannot evade to tie any knot;

the Roaring Thunder that splits mighty trees: the all-seeing Lord up on high who sees even the footprints of an Antelope on a rock mass here on Earth.

You are the one who does not hesitate to respond to our call.

You are the cornerstone of Peace.

You provide for us on this Earth.




We pray to eradicate all the misery in the world:  that understanding triumph over ignorance, that generosity triumph over indifference, that trust triumph over contempt, and that truth triumph over falsehood.




God adjudges us according to our deeds, not the coat that we wear:  that Truth is above everything, but higher still is truthful living.

Know that we attaineth God we loveth, and only victory endures in consequences of which no one is defeated.




IT IS IMPORTANT THAT...we remind ourselves, that to live in harmony within an increasingly multi-cultural Society, we take into account the needs, rituals, practises and diversity of religious and non-religious beliefs.  That we acknowledged and respect these diverse cultures and beliefs, which truly enrich our lives.  The following information merely offers an overview of just some of the major Religions that are found in the United Kingdom:-


HUMANISTS...are non-religious.  They believe that this life is the only one we have and therefore, when you are dead there is 'no' moving on to another life,  The focus of a Humanist Funeral is on celebrating the life of the 'loved-one' who has died.  They share stories and recall memories of precious times past.  Play the person's favourite music with friends and family, supported by an Officant.  The ceremony is usually a Cremation which is tailored to the family's wishes rather than a prescribed format.


CHRISTIANS...believe that there is one God and the Jesus Christ was the Son of God.  Christians believe in an afterlife and also the idea of resurrection...depending on the different denominations there are various views as to what actually happens at the time of death.  Some believe that as soon as a person dies, they are judged by God and go either to Heaven or Hell accordingly to their 'good' or 'bad' deeds whilst on Earth.  For Roman Catholics there is a halfway called 'Purgatory' an impure Soul can stay until deemed fit to enter Heaven.

Others believe that there is a Day of Judgement, when the World will end and the dead will return to life to be judged by God.

Within the different Christian denominations were are many variations as to what happens at a Funeral.  Usually, when someone dies, they are taken to an Undertaker who will make the necessary preparation for the loved-one's body to be 'laid out' and dressed in the clothes requested by the family.  Then family and friends who wish to pay their respect before the Funeral.  The Funeral would normally take place about one week after the death, with a service in a Church or Crematorium...sometimes, a combination of the two.  During the Service the Coffin remains closed and flowers and/or wreaths may be placed on top.  It is traditional for the mourners to wear black, however, this custom varies.

If the Service is held in a may include Holy Communion, Eucharist or Mass, followed by a burial or cremation.  A Churchyard grave is usually marked with a marble or slate headsone, engraved with thier name, date of birth and date of death and sometimes a message of love from family.  When a cremation has taken place the family and/or next-of-kin usually decide on how they will scatter the 'Ashes'...or even carry out the last wishes of the deceased person.


BUDDHISTS...believe that nothing that exists is permanent and everything will eventually cease to to be.  There is a belief in rebirth, but not of a Sould passing from one body to another.  The rebirth is more a state of a constantly changing being rather than reincarnation.  The objective is to achieve a state of perfect Peace and Freedom.  Buddhists try to approach death with great calmness and an open minded attitude of acceptance.

There are few formal traditions relating to Funerals...they tend to be seen as non-religious events.  Cremation is the accepted practise and the Service is kept very simple.  Sometimes the ceremony is conducted by family members or by a Buddhist Monk.


ISLAM...Muslims believe in life after death when on the Last Day, the dead will come back to life to be judged by Allah.  The good will live in Paradise, and the damned in Hell.  Muhammed teaches that all men and women are to serve Allah and they should try to live in a perfect way...following the Qur'an.  Devout Muslims believe that death is a part of Allah's plan and open expressions of grief may be viewed as disrespectful to this belief.

Muslims are always buried [cremation is forbidden] ideally within 24 hours of the death.  Ritual washing is usually performed by the family or close friends at the Undertakers or Mortuary.  The loved-one's body is then wrapped in a clean cloth or shroud.  The coffin is usually plain as traditionally a coffin would not be used. 

The grave is aligned so that the head of the deceased is facing the Holy City of Mecca.  Traditionally, Muslim graves are unmarked, however, as a compromise and to comply with UK requirements, a simple headstone is used.  There is an official mourning period of 3 days...the family remain at home and food is brought by friends and relatives.  For 40 days after the Funeral, relatives may wish to make regular visits to the grave [on Fridays].


SIKHS...believe the Soul goes through a cycle of rebirths.  The ultimate objective being to reach perfection to be reunited with God and, as a result, break the cycle.  Therefore death holds no fear and mourning is very discreet.  The present life is influenced by what happened in the previous ones and the current life will set the scene for the next.

The deceased is cremated as soon as possible after death and the coffin is taken to the family home where is is left open for family and friend to pay their respects.  It is then taken to the Gurdwara where hymns and prayers are sung.  After the Cremation there is a short service during which the eldest son presses the button for the coffin to move behind the curtain. 

In India the eldest son would light the funeral pyre and no coffin would be used.  Following the Funeral, a meal may be held at the Gurdwara.  The Ashes may be taken back to India to be scattered.  Here they may be scattered in the Sea or a River.  The family will remain in mourning for several days after the Funeral and may listen to reading from the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Book).


HINDUS...believe in reincarnation and a cycle of rebirths.  When a person dies...the Soul is reborn in a new body, returning to earth in either a better or worse form.  What a person does in their current life will influence what happens to them in the next...the Law of Karma.  Good deeds in this life will be reborn into 'higher order' families, those who have behaved in a bad way, will be born again as outcasts.

A Hindu Funeral is not only a remembrance service, it is also a celebration.  Hindus cremate their dead as it is the Soul that is important.  White is the traditional colour and mourners traditionally wear Indian garments.  During the Service offerings such as flowers or sweetmeats may be passed around, whilst bells are rung [noise is part of the ritual].  The Chief Mourner is usually the eldest son and other male members of the family may shave their heads as a mark of respect.

In India the Chief Mourner would light the Funeral he will press the button to make the coffin disappear.  In some cases the Chief Mourner may be permitted to ignite the Cremator.  Ashes may be taken back to India to scatter on the River Ganges.  In the United Kingdom some areas of water have been designated as acceptable substitutes.  Mourning lasts between 2 and 5 weeks.


Further information can be found


GYPSIES & TRAVELLERS ON THE ROAD TO EQUALITY - by Nevi-Tober...Roma/Gypsies are an ethnic minority group who first arrived in the British Isles in the early 16th Century.  A diverse people composed of many distinct Communities, each with different histories and varying lifestyles.  The Kalderash, Gitanes, Lovari, Boyers, Sinti, Manush and Ramanichals...are just a few of the many groups found throughout Europe and America.  Their names often refer to their original occupations.  The Kalderash were noted Coppersmiths, The Lovari renowned horse-dealers, the Boyars animal trainers etc.  These related communities composed of many different ethnic fragments reflecting the countries and cultures they settled in during more than a thousand years of migration.  Unlike many other ethnic groups who have been resident for a similar period of time the Roma/Gypsies have managed to retain their distinct identity.


In the British Isles they became known collectively as Gypsies.  The name derives from the word 'Egyptian' because they announced when they first arrived, that they were 'Princes of little Eqypt'.  Today most refer to themselves as Romanii (most English Roma are Romanichals).  The first appearance in Scotland, documented in 1505 was the western extension of a migration that probably originated in North West India some 1500 years before.  There is evidence to suggest that the Roma people are the descendants of an army defeated by the Armenians around that time and expelled from their native land to start wandering.  Viewed as intruders, even possible spies from the Muslim East, repressive legislation threatening expulsion, imprisonment and even death for these vagrants who refused to abandon a wondering life was introduced.  Some groups did settle...others continued to travel from one region or country to another to avoid persecution and subjugation.  Whatever occupation they followed, throughout Europe, they were, for the most part, continually harassed, often accused of brigandry, witchcraft, fortune telling or just being 'Bohemian'...consequently offensive to the established authorities of the Church and State but, were frequently acceptable to the populace they moved amongst.  Yet no persecution in the remote past compares to the awful events of recent history.  During the Second World War over 500,000 Gypsies were killed in Nazi occupied territories throughout Europe, their extermination in these Countries was near total.


The term 'Traveller' however, whilst including Roma/Gypsies also includes groups of people who do not descend from the same source as the Roma.  The Irish Travelling People trace their roots back to the ancient Celtic Tribes, have a very different culture and language, these people inhabited the British Isles long before the Roma arrived.  Welsh Travellers are for the most part Gypsies, Scottish Travellers have links with both these groups.  There has been some inter-marriage between these groups over the years and assumtions over culture and tradition may be unsafe.  Barg'ee, Circus and Fairground families also come under the banner of Travellers, with New Travellers a recent addition to the group.  Romanii/Gypsies and Irish Travelling People are now recognised as distinct ethnic minorities, legally deserving racial equality in this Country, Europe and America, although 'Travellers' in Ireland are not yet afforded this Right.  Unfortunately, here in the UK they continue to experience nagative discrimination and racism on a daily basis.  There are believed to be between 1000,000 and 130,000 Romanii/Gypsies in the United Kingdom.  The practise of specific customs and beliefs within this common heritage varies depending on group origin, age, occupation and circumstances.  Some families strickly adhere to their Romanii codes...others are leaving their traditions behind.


Naming Systems...Whilst there is no distinct naming systems within the Romanii community, it is not unusual for the elders to be called aunt or uncle out of respect, rather than family connections.  An individual may have a name known only to members of their own community, they are often very descriptive or poetic names.  Many first names are derived from the Bible, it is also common for children to be named after their parents or grandparents.  They may have other names which are commonly used outside the community.


Language...Most Romanii/Gypsies you will encounter speak English, but some may need help with reading and completing forms.  The Romanii language (known as Romanes) is derived from the Ancient Indian language of Sandkrit and is similar to Hindi.  Romanes also contains words from Romanian, Greek, Persian and other European languages from countries that the Gypsies have settled in or passed through during their migration.  One of the purest forms of Romanes is found in North Wales.  It is a very complex language with as many as 80 dialects identified.  The most commonly spoken dialect in Britain is called 'Poggardy Jib'  (broken language in Romanes) which mixes Romanes and English words together.  Irish and Scottish Travellers have their own b arious languages of Shelta, Gammon or Cant.


Religion...Generally speaking Gypsies are religious, usually following the religion of the Country in which they live.  Throughout the World there are Muslim, Hindu, Orthodox Christian and Roman Catholic Gypsies.  Recently there has been an Evangelist Revival within the community across Western Europe, so you are likely to find many born again Christians in the community.


Bereavement...Concerning Death and Bereavement there are many different customs which vary depending on the age of the individual and to which family group 'he' or 'she' belongs.  Should death be imminent for a Gypsy...his/her family may gather to ge at their side.  It has been known for more than 200 Gypsies to arrive and camp outside the Hospital where a renowned Gypsy Elder was dying.  Many follow the custom of hold or touching a person which they are dying to assist them in their passage from this world into the next.  Candles may be lit after death...if at home white sheets are usually hung on the walls and curtains remain closed until the deceased has been buried.


Traditionally the deceased's possessions would be burned, including their Trailer Caravan.  It was also common practise for the dead person to be burned with their possession in their Vardo (caravan).  If possible they would prefer to leave a site where a family member has died.  Nowadays there is a general peference for burial rather than cremation.  Often the deceased' body will be taken 'home' before the Funeral for anthing from 1 to 7 nights, to allow the extended family and friends to come and pay their last respects by sitting with the dead person.  Where feasible the coffin is open and the person dressed in their best clothes not unlike an Irish wake.


Items belonging to the deceased may be placed in the coffin, things that they were attached to...photographs, toys, watches, jewellery etc.  Amongst some, there is a belief in an evil entity...a Spirit or Ghost called the 'Mulla or 'Mullamush' which may attach itself to the possessions or the environment of the deceased unless the correct rituals are observed


BUILDING A LEGACY OF PEACE...regardless of your particular 'faith' in 'Building a Legacy of Peace' we can all share in it's benefits:



E. & O.E.