IN a complex, often troubled world on many fronts, most of us find time to celebrate our festive events which are mainly related to our individual faiths or no faith.

To me, a country like ours with much diversity is, overall, a wonderful example of celebrating many festive events like Christmas, Eid, Diwali, Nirvana, Hanukkah, Vaisakhi or others we celebrate through faith, culture or heritage.

We have to consider ourselves fortunate that this country gives us all opportunities to collectively celebrate, participate and enjoy all festivals — that in itself speaks volume for our democracy and hopefully bright future ahead.

Through work with interfaith, I have learnt like many others that as humans we share so much in common to celebrate together rather than the few differences which we have to learn to respect as decent human beings.

After all the humanitarian values of kindness, compassion, empathy, respectful, sacrifice, giving, forgiving and caring for others are core values embedded in every faith or belief and Lord Jesus was a true example as there are in other faiths. Christmas and New Year is a time for hope, joy and reflection for us.

Festive season of Christmas and the beginning of New Year is one time most of us look forward to regardless being of another faith or no faith.

Without getting into the commercial aspect, Christmas in our country gives unique atmosphere which attracts many from all sections of our diverse communities.

I see the joyous faces of children in nativity plays, singing wonderful hymns, songs of praise to the Lord, choirs performing, town centre and markets has that unique feeling with extra buzz, variety of food, shops full of people sending good wishes with cards, buying presents, churches well attended, television programmes bringing memories of the past, few days holidays from normalities to spend time with family and loved ones . . . and much more.

It is a precious family time in this fast-moving world.

Despite all those good times, for many of us in our country, we must remember the ones who are lonely and frail, ones struggling to meet ends meet, those who have lost loved ones, those hospitalised, those cannot celebrate and having to live in awful conditions in tents and in open air in many parts of the world.

Hence locally, work of our NHS staff, Bolton Hospice, City of Sanctuary, Destitution Project, Urban Outreach, those who protect and keep us safe, many local and national charities and volunteers whose commitment to care and support for people throughout the year is to be much valued and appreciated.

Finally, as interfaith person, Christmas is also a wonderful opportunity for us to collectively work more effectively together for peace and harmony in our towns and country.

On behalf of every one at Bolton Interfaith Council, we wish you all a happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.

Chan Parmar

Bolton Interfaith Council