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Faith and community join hands in Tooting


The BATCA Multi Faith Peace Ceremony at Tooting Broadway on 18th November was a moving affirmation of the strength of Balham and Tooting as home to diverse faiths and to a strong, cohesive community.

The event drew together faith and civic leaders and the general public in a vivid celebration of our rich diversity and collective strength and well being. Leaders of five faiths were present (Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh) and brought powerful messages. Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, MP for Tooting, and Councillor Richard Field, the Mayor of Wandsworth responded as leaders of our civic life. Several councillors were present. The public gathered round and lit candles.

The faith leaders emphasised that our shared humanity is at the root of their faith, together with a commitment to serve all in society, regardless of faith, race or culture. Traditional prayers, chanting and instruments complemented the spoken word.

The Mayor and Dr Rosena Allin-Khan MP saluted the role of faith communities in meeting need in Balham and Tooting, especially in response to the pandemic. They paid tribute to NHS and other public service workers, to volunteers and community groups, and to the countless individuals who go out of their way to help others: ‘everyone is a hero’.

The boys of Al Risalah school showed how young people share this vision.  Two senior boys spoke vividly of our community’s strengths in valuing and caring for each other, whatever our background, and its role as a beacon of hope – a place where we know and listen to our neighbours, as we work for peace.

This was the thirteenth Peace Ceremony, which has been held every year since 2007 except during lockdown in 2020.  It was led by Rev Philippa Boardman, Vicar of St Mary Magdalene church, Wandsworth Common.

The faith representatives were:

Bhikku Nagase, Battersea Park Peace Pagoda Buddhist
Fr Arbogast Lekule, St Anselm’s RC church Christian
Geetha Maheshwaran, Shree Ganapathy Temple Hindu
Mr Harbans Mehta, Khalsa Centre Gurdwara Sikh
Iman Khubaeb, Tooting Islamic Centre Muslim
Abbas Farshori, Idara-E-Jaaferiya Mosque Muslim
Asjid and Sabir, senior pupils at Al Risalah Muslim Secondary School, Tooting Muslim secondary school