Center for Interfaith Cooperation

Hoosiers of Many Faiths in Community

KP Singh on a mela in Indy

Mela (Sanskrit: मेला) is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘gathering’ or ‘to meet’ or a ‘fair’.

Veterans Memorial Plaza / Indiana War Memorial, Downtown Indianapolis The rain did not dampen the spirit and enthusiasm of the exhibitors, performers, and families that came to enjoy the Fifth Annual Indy Festival of Faiths (October 15th). The organizers worked to move the Festival from the outdoor setting on Veterans Memorial Plaza indoors into the Indiana War Memorial. The 80 faith and cultural exhibitors lined the main hallway, side corridors, and various rooms on the main floor.

The Opening Ceremony and the Sacred Arts – prayer by faith leaders; musical performances – Song Squad, Taiko Drums, Michael Glen Bell, The Sikh Satsang Choir, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Double Quartet; Dances – Ballet Folklorico Musaicos, and Indian Classical Dance highlighted Festival and were performed in the ornate Auditorium. The Closing Ceremony was led by Rev. Marilyn Gill of the Indiana Christian Leadership Conference and Rev. Carolyn Hardville from the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

MELA is a Punjabi word; it means a festive gathering of people and families for a celebration with feasting and fun, music and dancing, shopping and trade, learning and exchange. Indy’s Festival of Faiths is an interfaith Melas that exude that joyful spirit and a pilgrimage to our shared spiritual blessings.

The packed Main Hallway and the side corridors were a rich diversity of activity – Turban Tying on hundreds of enthusiastic Hoosiers of many faiths and ages by The Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis, Sikh Society of Indiana, and Sikh Community volunteers; playing Punjabi Dhol (big drum) and spontaneous Bhangra dancing; a rocking Bongo Boy Drums Circle in the entrance area with multi-generational participants.

The Sikh Satsang Choir led by Bhagwinder Kaur and Jaswinder Kaur magnificent sang the sacred hymn, with the masterful Tabla player Gurdev Singh and Satsang Ragis Joginder Singh and Gurpreet Singh: “Tum Daatay Thakur Pritpaluck Naayyuk Khussum Hamaaray…: God, You are our Benevolent Lord, Protector, and Provider, Guide, and Master….” There were exhibits about faiths, cultures, and current social issues, sharing of information about faiths and friendly exchanges. There were authors, artists, and poets on hand; and social awareness conversations. The whole experience was a sacred journey, a pilgrimage across frontiers of faiths and cultures, and reflective of the true meaning and spirit of Sacred Migrations.