13 March, 2019
An Inter-Religious Journey
-Ms. Alareen Fernandes

The Bombay Archdiocesan Commission for Inter-Religious Dialogue, conducts a one-year training programme known as Basics in Inter-Religious Dialogue (BIRD), with an objective of introducing the participants to an understanding of the core beliefs and practices of the main religions in India. The teachers of Don Bosco High School, Matunga -Ms. Pauline Vallado, Ms. Marossa Fernandes, Ms. Alareen Fernandes and Mr. Sherone George attended the BIRD course every last Sunday of the month from July to March, 2019 at St. Pius College, Goregaon.
The organizers of the BIRD course under the guidance of Fr. Aniceto Pereira, Rector of the college and Fr. S. M. Michael, Secretary of BIRD creates a genuine experience on the importance of inter-religious dialogue in today’s world of turmoil and violence . The course educates the participants about the scriptures of Islam, Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism & Zoroastrianism, and helps in understanding these faiths in detail. It recognizes that public life and spirituality should go hand in hand.
India is the birth place of some of the great religions of the world. BIRD sessions were an eye-opener and an opportunity to get basic knowledge of these religions from the practicing worshippers /experts of these religions themselves. Each Sunday session dealt with a different religion starting with Islam which draws similarities to Christianity. Muslims are at times looked upon with fear and suspicion in today’s world, but the actual teachings of Islam speak about love and service. Hinduism gave us an in-depth knowledge of doing good deeds and the concept karma. Jainism being an atheistic religion: the main emphasis is to lead a simple non-worldly life and all actions should be done to attain spiritual riches. This was also echoed in the session on Buddhism. Sikhism with its history of helping anyone in need in spite of one’s own suffering was very inspiring. Zoroastrianism gave us an insight being the world’s first ecologically conscious religion.
Each session drew parallels to Christianity. The teachings of the other faith made us realize us that we are all children of God and hence need to build good relations with other faiths and live in harmony with our neighbours. As said by Fr. Michael, “To build good inter-religious relations, one needs to be rooted in his faith but be open to all other faiths.”
The 14th edition of the BIRD Course came to a close with a solemn Graduation Day, celebrated in the auditorium of St. Pius College, Goregaon, on March 10, 2019 with a programme, The proceedings included short enactments by the participants of the BIRD course. Each group enacted plays depicting stories from various religions.
Certificates were then distributed to the graduates of the BIRD course by the Chief Guest, Ms. Sayeeda Dada. The programme concluded with an intercessory prayer service followed by some refreshments.