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“The interfaith panel discussion on fasting” Report

The interfaith panel discussion on fasting in Finland was held by SKY Working Group online. The panel aimed to learn about fasting in various religions from direct, authentic sources. Heidi Rautionmaa, an interfaith practitioner, priest, and educator shared information on fasting in Christianity at different times, but more in detail we heard about the 40-day fast during the most important and great fasting season. Kristina Schmidt-Penttilä described the fasting period as being in fixed time in March, which ends with the solstice celebrations on March 21. Suaad Onniselkä, who specializes in Islamic education in Finland shared information about the month of Ramadan when Muslims fast, the last ten days of Ramadan, the night of power (qadr) for instance.
Ani Sherap, Tibetan Buddhist Nun who taught Buddhism in Finland for a long time described their fasting from a historical perspective to today. Finally, Gopal Krishna Das, who represented Hinduism described the types of fasts in their practice. In the second round of the panel, participants shared their practical self-understanding and practice of fast. Finally, the panel furthered with questions and comments from the audience, and by moderator summing it up with suggestions to take away from the event. We are now more convinced that, regardless of religion, fasting has personal and social aspects as well as its divine aspects. It helps people to be a better person, to discover oneself, to empathize and to work on their limitations. In social aspect is, however, more about empathy towards the needy, care and compassion towards others, and caring for one another. We look forward to more reflective, critical, and information panels in the future as well. For the panel, please refer to it on YouTube.

 

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