The fifth edition of Barcelona’s "La nit de les Religions” [Night of Religions] takes place on 12 and 13 September. The initiative includes a programme of activities, face to face and virtual, organised by 33 of the city’s religious communities and associations, including talks, guided tours, concerts and theatre representations.
This year’s edition has been adapted to the current reality, marked by a health crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. This edition will feature virtual-format activities for the first time and require prior registration for activities to ensure availability of places and the necessary social distancing.
Nit de les Religions [Night of Religions] has the main goal of creating and promoting a space for meeting up, mutual knowledge and dialogue between city residents and religious and ethical communities and associations. It will offer two open days of dialogue in which some forty communities and associations of various religious traditions or convictions will be taking part: Christians from several denominations, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, Baha’is, Hindus, Sikhs as well as non-religious and other organisations. As in previous editions, this will be a day for discovering the plurality of faiths, spiritual traditions and confessions of the city’s residents, for and interacting with them.
Nit de les of Religions uses inter-religious, interfaith, and intercultural dialogue to highlights how religious plurality enriches and makes up Barcelona’s identity. Sponsored by Barcelona City Council and Obra Social “La Caixa”, the initiative is organised by the AUDIR Association, led by its youth group.
The official opening event will be on Saturday, 12 September, at 12.30 noon, at the Reial Monestir de Santa Maria de Pedralbes. Open to all city residents who have registered for it in advance, the event is expected to include speeches from the Commissioner for Intercultural Dialogue and Religious Pluralism at Barcelona City Council, Khalid Ghali, and the head of the Department of Interculturality and Social Cohesion at the “La Caixa” Bank Foundation, Francesc Ventura. Other speakers taking part will be Inês Castel-Branco, an Akiara Books editor, and Xavier Melloni, an anthropologist and phenomenologist of religion. There will be a performance of music from several cultures, given by Monika Czyżewska (Western concert flute) and Alejandro Mateo (baroque violin).
Francesc Torradeflot, the director of AUDIR, states: “Civil society’s religious communities and organisations have played a key role during the lockdown, often supporting the most vulnerable from material, emotional and spiritual perspectives. Nit de les Religions aims to make its contribution to this spirit of support and neighbourliness through the activities that are going to be carried out”. What is more, “it seeks to continue being a meeting and dialogue space that enables people to discover at first hand the diversity of our country and to act as a tool for helping to eliminate prejudices, stereotypes and hate speeches”, he adds.
For his part, the Commissioner for Intercultural Dialogue and Religious Pluralism at Barcelona City Council, Khalid Ghali, explains: “The Barcelona Charter of Rights and Duties states that Barcelona is a city of positive community life that is based on responsibility, plurality, tolerance and respect for human rights and the promotion of conditions for the free and full development of its citizens. Freedom of conscience and religion and their recognition in the city are fundamental. And for freedom of faith and conscience to be truly possible we need to work in the framework of secularism, so that all world views and options of conscience (whether or not religious) can coexist and cooperate with equal opportunities. But besides the right to the expression of faith, religious and ethical organisations and traditions contribute priceless wealth and value to cities such as Barcelona. They are part of a common good, a historical, cultural and human good that must be guaranteed and preserved”.
So, then, the 12 and 13 September will be two days for discovering Barcelona’s various religions, forms of worship and faiths. Days for believers and non-believers alike, for positive community life and enjoyment.
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