Published: August 8, 2000
The Religions of One City’s Immigrants
BOSTON, MASS. – “,” an exhibition exploring the religions of Boston immigrants, is featured at the International Institute of Boston’s new Dreams of Freedom Center at One Milk Street, in Boston.
The show is an outgrowth of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, directed by Professor Diana L. Eck, a decade-long study of America’s changing religious landscape. The Pluralism Project has documented 13 religious traditions practiced in the greater Boston area: Afro-Caribbean, Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Native American, Paganism/Wicca, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.
“” features worshipping congregations from six of these communities. Members of local churches, temples, mosques, and gurdwaras provided the exhibition text and objects, as well as guidance for the photography shoots. Outstanding Boston-area photographers Pete Mellor, Stephanie Blair Mitchell, Dana Mueller-Lustig, Laurie Pzena, and Kris Snibbe documented these groups at worship.
The show includes personal statements by members of each of the six religions about practicing their faith in Boston and answers to commonly asked questions (suggested by the communities) such as: Why do Hindus worship so many deities? Why do Muslim women cover themselves? Why do Buddhists often hold their hands together?
Photo captions explain why Christians feel it is important to read the Bible, Jews celebrate Shabbat, some Buddhists do walking meditations, and music is so central to Sikh worship.
The communities contributed a Buddhist altar (and musical instruments to play), a Hindu shrine, copies of the Qur’an in eight languages (all spoken by Muslims in Boston), Sikh swords and a shield, Christian communion hosts and wine, and a Jewish Torah cover and breastplate, as well as three audio recordings. The recordings include Buddhist chanting, Sikh devotional music, and a recitation of the first chapter of the Qur’an. At the end of the exhibition, visitors are invited to look at maps of Boston and the greater Boston area that show the locations of ethnic houses of worship – there are hundreds of them – and to play the award-winning CD-ROM On Common Ground: World Religions in America, developed by the Pluralism Project. (For further information about the Pluralism Project see www.pluralism.org.)
“” was curated by Catherine Zusy. It is the first temporary exhibition to open at IIB’s new Dreams of Freedom Center, an innovative cultural facility celebrating the trials, triumphs, and contributions of Boston’s immigrants. The Center includes a permanent high-tech multimedia exhibit incorporating cherished objects, vintage photos, holographic characters, and other special effects to recreate the atmosphere, context, and emotion of the immigrant experience.
IIB executive director Westy Egmont notes, “We hope that the center increases visitors’ awareness of Boston’s immigrant history and helps new Americans integrate into the social mainstream. To this end, ” offers visitors an intimate look at the breadth of spirit and religious practice within our city.”
Dreams of Freedom is open daily 9:30 am to 6 pm. For information, call 617/338-6022.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm