Level: B1 Intermediate / B2 Upper Intermediate
On the third Sunday of January, World Religion Day is celebrated globally. It’s an amazing opportunity to talk about different religions around the world, and to promote peace and tolerance among people of all faiths and none. With true tolerance and love, we are willing “to accept behaviour and beliefs that are different from your own, although you might not agree with or approve of them’’ (Cambridge Online Dictionary).
Let’s have a closer look at four religious buildings in London to discover a little more about some of the various faiths that make up our diverse city.
Bevis Marks Synagogue, Bevis Marks, Aldgate, London, EC3A 7LH
This is the oldest synagogue in the United Kingdom that has been in continuous use. The synagogue was built in 1701 for Sephardi Jews who have a Spanish or Portuguese heritage. There are religious services in the synagogue each day, with the primary meetings on Saturdays. Shabbat (Saturday) is the Jewish holy day of rest and worship. Shabbat is marked each week with Jewish people meeting together to pray, to hear the Torah (the holy book in Judaism) read, and families eat a special meal together. Jews believe they must follow God’s laws in the Torah in everyday life.
You can watch this video to find out more about the Ben Marks Synagogue.
Aziziye Mosque, Stoke Newington, London N16 8BU
Islamic places of worship and prayer are called mosques. The Aziziye Mosque mainly serves the Turkish community in the area with Turkish language services. This building has Ottoman style decoration with eye-catching blue and white mosaic tiles. Islam is centered around belief in the one God (Allah and the prophet Muhammed). Muslims (people who follow Islam) go to the mosque often go to the mosque on Fridays to pray and hear the Qur’an (the holy book) and to listen to the Imam share wisdom. You can find out more about Islam here.
BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Brentfield Rd, London NW10 8LD
The Mandir, also known as the Neasdon Temple, is a traditional place of Hindu worship designed and built entirely according to traditional methods – without any structural steel. Amazingly, this building was carved in India out of Indian, Italian and Bulgarian stone, and then transported to England. Hindus believe in the continuous cycle of life, death, and reincarnation as well as karma (the universal law of cause and effect). Hindus visit the Mandir to repeat the names of their favourite gods, goddesses, and the mantras and to offer water, fruit, flowers and incense to the gods.
You can see inside the Mandir here.
Saint Pancras Old Church, Pancras Rd, London NW1 1UL
This Christian church in central London claims to trace its history back as far as 314 AD and has many interesting people buried in its surrounding graveyard – such as composer Johann Christian Bach, architect John Soane, and vampire writer John Polidori. Christians typically go to church on Sundays to worship, pray, read the Bible (the holy book), and hear it explained. Christians believe that knowing God is possible through Jesus, and that God communicates with people today through the Bible by his Holy Spirit. You can find out more about Christianity here. Fun fact – the Beatles once had their photo taken outside of the St Pancras Old Church doors.
Photograph by ©Stephen Goldblatt
From the information in the above article, decide if the following statements are True, False, or Not Given.
-World Religion Day is an international celebration of interfaith peace.
-Once a week, Jewish people spend a day resting and worshipping God.
-Muslims eat a special meal on Fridays after they visit the mosque.
-The Shri Swaminarayan Mandir was built out of steel and stone in India.
-The Bible is central to Christianity and during Sunday services somebody talks about it.
What do you think are the benefits of World Religion Day?
Do you think World Religion Day is necessary?
What are the most common religions in your home country?
What do you think about religion?
What do you believe in?