Fair in Jackson Heights seeks to promote toleration of diversity

Event director Shree Vinayak Kaurwar is slated to take part in Interfaith Harmony and World Peace Fair and Festival in Jackson Heights on the weekend of June 25-26. Photo courtesy Mohammad Rashid
By Rebecca Henely

Individuals of all religions and backgrounds plan to come together on the weekend of June 25-26 for a fair in Jackson Heights to promote peace and understanding in the most diverse part of America’s most diverse county.

“This is our children’s future,” said Muhammad Rashid, one of the organizers of the event. “We have to live in complete harmony.”

To try to reach that goal, representatives from multiple business and religious organizations will hold the Interfaith Harmony and World Peace Fair and Festival on the open space at IS 145, at 33-34 79th St. from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

At this fair, which was designed to become an annual event, stalls will be set up for groups to explain who they are and what they do, and visitors can take part in multiple activities. June 25 will feature food, music and dance from multiple countries, yoga, martial arts, an enrichment program for children, a presentation on health issues and art displays. The next day will be a combination sports and picnic day, with physical activities such as soccer, rope pulling, cricket and musical chairs.

Rashid said the impetus behind the event is to bring many different types of people together. The diverse populations in Jackson Heights — which include immigrants from Mexico and Colombia to India and Bangladesh as well as a sizable gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community — will have to learn how to get along and help each other.

“There is a fire in the building, who is going to help me?” Rashid asked. “My neighbor.”

Justice Thomas Raffaele, president of the Ethical Humanist Society of Queens; Imam Mohd Qayyoom, of the Muhammadi Community Center of Jackson Heights; and Steve Knobel, president of the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, conceived the event and the team that created it is headed up by Rashed Ahammed, a Bangladeshi immigrant who runs Torango, a multimedia organization, in Jackson Heights.

The fair is free and will have free food and drink both days as well as an emphasis on being environmentally friendly.

Rashid said an event promoting interfaith harmony is important because all religions have the ultimate goal of peace and working toward being a good person, and individuals cannot do that if they discriminate.

“We have to live in peace and harmony and then we can help each other,” Rashid said.

For more information log on to interfaithharmonyworldpeace.com.

Reach reporter Rebecca Henely by e-mail at rhenely@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4564.

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