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updated: 5/9/2013 5:04 PM

Sikh temple to hold Interfaith celebration in Palatine

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An organization created to cultivate harmony among the world's religious and spiritual communities will hold an interfaith celebration Saturday in Palatine.

The Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions event, which is free and open to the public, will feature music, prayer and conversation from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Sikh Religious Society's Gurdwara Sahib, 1280 Winnetka St., Palatine. A traditional meal known as langar will follow at the temple.

"This will provide a forum where people are free to talk about their own faith and experiences," said Dr. Balwant Singh Hansra, a Sikh Religious Society member and former council trustee. "We want to try to bring people together."

The Council for a Parliament of World's Religions is a Chicago-based charitable group formed in 1988 to prepare for the 100th anniversary of the 1893 Parliament, held to gather representatives of eastern and western spiritual traditions at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Since the 1993 Parliament, which drew about 7,500 people and world religious leaders to the Palmer House in Chicago, the council has convened similar international meetings in Barcelona, Spain, Cape Town, South Africa, and Melbourne, Australia.

Hansra said the interfaith celebration in Palatine aims to bring together people of all faiths at the local level. A larger, global celebration is planned later this year at the University of Chicago, Hansra said.

"We've invited the Jewish community, Buddhists, Sikhs, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans ... everyone, really," Hansra said.

The last time the Sikh Religious Society held an interfaith gathering was in August after a gunman fatally shot six people at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.

"That was a very sad occasion," Hansra said. "This is a celebration."

The council seeks to promote interreligious harmony rather than unity, which representatives say can risk the loss of the unique character of each individual religious and spiritual tradition.

By initiating dialogues and nurturing relationships among different groups, the council hopes to create a "just, peaceful and sustainable future."

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