Cultural and Religious Pluralism: Diwali, a Festival of Lights, Music, and Unity

Main Library

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  • Diwali Lights

The religious diversity of Salt Lake City is vast and growing. Because faith plays an integral role in the lives of many citizens, it is important to have an ongoing conversation about the way these varying religious traditions intersect, interact, and the possibility for reaching common ground to enhance the community.

Join Salt Lake City Public Library for the annual Cultural and Religious Pluralism Conference, dedicated to exposing the public to new ideas about religion in the modern world. Sessions include film screenings, lectures, and panel discussions with religious leaders in the community. This year’s conference will focus on an understanding of Hindu practice and belief, particularly in context of the Western faith traditions prevalent in the area.

In conjunction with the conference, participate in the annual Diwali celebration, with music, dance, crafts, and food. Explore the cultural facets of this religious festival, firsthand, and learn more about a tradition that is thousands of years old.

Full Schedule of Events

November 29, 2012
India: Love and Devotion film screening
Main Library Auditorium

India is a diverse country, but India: Love and Devotion shows that despite religious and cultural differences, most Indians share a common sense of spirituality and devotion. From the Ganges River to the Taj Mahal, India: Love and Devotion takes viewers on a vibrant one hour journey through the crowded streets, bustling markets, and peaceful deserts of India. This timeless documentary also looks at religious beliefs which manifest in daily Indian life, including the ideals of oneness with nature, respect for all living beings, nonviolence and a tolerance of diversity. The film captures Indian families during harvest time, camel farmers in Pushkar, and Indian dancers in Rajasthan. By examining both the spiritual and practical aspects of life, India: Love and Devotion gives viewers an understanding of the way devotion regulates daily practices.

Indra Neelameggham
Indra Neelameggham immigrated to the United States in the early 1980's. Known as Indramami or Indra Aunty to most young people of Indian heritage living in Utah, she and her husband Neale have been very involved in the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple and India Cultural Center of Utah located in South Jordan. A much sought after speaker and panelist on the subjects of Indian culture and Hinduism, Indra is also very active in Interfaith Roundtable and currently serving as Treasurer.

December 1, 2012
Keynote Address: Diwali and Its Pluralistic Approach to the Global World

Hinduism is like a rainbow in a sun shower: it is sunlight that is refracted and reflected into a continuous spectrum of colors that suddenly becomes visible, and that is wonderful to see. From one perspective it seems unified yet from another it seems infinitely diverse. Diwali, as it has developed in the Hindu Diaspora, is a dispersive prism that permits one to observe the unity in the diversity and the diversity in the unity. Sarma will shed light on the history and development of Hinduism(s) with the goal of revealing some of its glorious iridescence.

Welcome: Deborah Ehrman, Associate Director, Salt Lake City Public Library
Guest of Honor: Dr. Ashok Joshi
Introductory Remarks: Dr. Brian Birch, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, Engaged Learning; Professor of Philosophy, Utah Valley University
Speaker:Dr. Deepak Sarma

About Ashok Joshi:
Dr. Ashok Joshi is the President of Ceramatec, Inc., a member of the Board of Trustees of Salt Lake Community College, and a Lifetime trustee of the Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple and India Cultural Center of Utah.

About Deepak Sarma:
Dr. Sarma is a Professor of Hinduism and Philosophy, Department of Religious Studies, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio, and author of: Classical Indian Philosophy: A Reader; Hinduism: A Reader (editor), Epistemologies and the Limitations of Philosophical Inquiry: Doctrine in Madhva Vedanta, and An Introduction to Madhva Vedanta. Sarma has a PhD in the Philosophy of Religions from the University of Chicago.

Panel Discussion: Building a Community of Global Faith
Main Library Auditorium
Members of various faith groups will explore commonalities between traditions that can foster a society in which all traditions and cultures can live in peace and harmony, as well as discussing ways for using faith to help foster a peaceful society that recognizes and respects diversity.

Dr. Muriel Schmid, Director of Religious Studies, University of Utah

Jagdish Gill, Sikh Temple of Utah
Dr. Iqbal Hossain, Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake
Father John E. Norman, St. Vincent Parish, Salt Lake City
Dr. Deepak Sarma, Case Western University
Jan Saeed, Office of Spiritual Life, Westminster College
Dr. Maeera Shreiber, Associate Professor of English, University of Utah
Dr. Brian Birch, Utah Valley University


Diwali Celebration
Main Library Auditorium

Music and Dance from India Cultural Center of Utah with additional performances by local cultural and faith groups.

Main Library Urban Room

The Pluralism Conference and Diwali celebration are generously sponsored by the following: Dr. Ashok Joshi, The Barbara L. and Norman C. Tanner Center for Nonviolent Human Rights Advocacy, Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, Interreligious Engagement Initiative at Utah Valley University, Islamic Society of Greater Salt Lake, Jewish Community Center, Middle East Center at the University of Utah, Office of Spiritual Life at Westminster College, Sri Ganesha Hindu Temple of Utah, Salt Lake Interfaith Roundtable, and the Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah, with additional support from the Federation of Mexican Clubs of Utah.

Location: Main Library Auditorium

Contact Information: (801) 524-8200