A series of inter-faith gatherings to celebrate religious festivals missed during 2020 began at the Dublin Lord Mayor’s garden near the Mansion House on Tuesday afternoon.
Rewind 2020, organised by the Dublin City Interfaith Forum, will continue until December 14th with each day dedicated to a different faith.
Beginning at 1pm each afternoon, faith communities taking part will include Buddhists, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus, Baha’i’s, Muslims, and Christians. Covid-19 guidelines are being strictly adhered to with attendance limited to 15 .
Launching the series, Lord Mayor Hazel Chu said "We are very conscious of this year being such a tough and challenging year for all, that one of the things shining through was community and in some cases it was community based on faith."
She wanted “a forum where everyone could celebrate, especially as you can see here with the crib and the tree that we’re trying to celebrate Christmas as much as possible, but that at the same time we may have forgotten all the other faiths. So the idea came along when I was talking to the interfaith groups.”
Because of the pandemic it was not possible to bring people inside the Mansion House, so she asked, "Why don't we put 15 people in the garden, have the celebration of all faiths being practised here in Ireland, to show that the community is alive and well?"
She said, “We wanted to send out a message that we’re here, no matter faith or religion you are, supporting you”.
Adrian Cristea, of the Dublin City Interfaith Forum, described the Lord Mayor's initiative as "a very welcome move " and amounted to recognition of "our rich diversity in the Mansion House for the first time in this way at this most special time of the year."
Tuesday’s ceremony involved celebration of Rohatsu 2020, the Buddhist Day of Enlightenment, which is marked by Zen Buddhists on the eighth day of the twelfth month each year. It commemorates the day the Buddha experienced enlightenment about 2,500 years ago.
The ceremony was led by Monk Myozan Kodo of Zen Buddhism Ireland. He said there were “currently, approximately 10,000 Buddhists in Ireland, about 5,000 native-born”. Originally from Co Galway, he has been Buddhist for about 25 years. “Buddhism is as diverse as Christianity,” he said, while his own Zen Buddhism goes back “93, 94 generations”.
On Wednesday a Sikh ceremony will take place, with the Jewish community marking Hanukkah on Thursday. On Friday there will be a Hindu ceremony, with a Baha’i ceremony on Saturday, and the final, Christian ceremony, on Monday next, December 14th.
Earlier the Lord Mayor opened the IFA Live Animal Crib at the Mansion House. Due to pandemic restrictions people can view the animals only through enlarged windows at the front of the crib this year. “I was determined the crib would be back,” said Lord Mayor Chu. “It is 25 years since it was first launched and in that time it has become a Dublin tradition.”
She also announced that on Christmas Day she and Knights of St Columbanus will serve dinners to the homeless at the Mansion House forecourt and garden as the RDS is not available due to Covid-19. Dinners will also be delivered to people around the city.
The Lord Mayor is inviting people to join her for “12 days of a Christmas Carol”, an online event featuring well-known personalities reading from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol . It will take place every day at 7pm, starting on December 13th, continuing to Christmas Eve.