Kirtan … Say What?

July 14, 2009

BY LAUREN KAWAM

Earlier this week we went to a Sikh temple, also known as a Gurdwara. While there, we enjoyed the singing of the hymns from the holy book—something called Kirtan. Other than being inspired by hearing it, the passion in the eyes of the musicians really made me want to capture it on film. Hence, one of my stories is a photo essay on Kirtan and the music of the Sikh religion.

Also, while at the Kirtan, we were guided to the Langer hall, where they served us d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s food. Let me just say curry, lentil soup and hands-down-the-best-tea-I’ve-ever-had make Lauren a happy camper.

Snaps to the people at the Gurdwara for their graciousness and patience with us taking endless photos and video while we were there. Snaps to the Kirtan players for vocalizing their connections to God. And snaps to the chefs in the kitchen for making some truly excellent food.


Speaking Out: What is religion meant to do in our lives?

July 7, 2009

BY LAUREN KAWAM

LONDON — Michael Shrewsbury speaks to us with a faint smile in his eyes. We can see that he’s proud to be a prebendary at St. Paul’s Cathedral. He conducts services and plays an administrative role at this Anglican cathedral, which crowns the highest point in London.

His blue eyes gleam in the midday sunlight that filters through the stained-glass windows lining the cathedral’s nave. He is really enjoying talking with a group of budding journalists about religion.

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In the middle of a sentence recounting the brief history of how he got involved with St. Paul’s, a woman’s voice comes over the loudspeaker announcing there will be a prayer. I can’t tell if she has a heartbeat or if she’s pre-recorded, but her voice is soothing and deep. She kindly asks churchgoers to take their seats and remain silent for a few minutes.  Read the rest of this entry »


From Inspiration to Fruition

July 3, 2009

BY LAUREN KAWAM

I stroll around St. Paul’s Cathedral, my footsteps echoing. The ceilings seem endless. The air inside has a cool tinge to it, even though the front doors remain closed.

A group of what looks like fifth graders hurries past me, whispering and trying to keep up with their absent-minded teacher.

In the time between when I arrive at the cathedral and when I sit to enjoy evensong, I muddle through my thoughts. I think about religion and God—and what religion is meant to do in our lives. Read the rest of this entry »


Kirtan: The Music of Sikhism

June 25, 2009

BY LAUREN KAWAM

After traveling to a Gurdwara, or Sikh temple, I was inspired to capture the spirit of this ceremonial music with this photo essay.


From One Reporter to Another

June 19, 2009

BY LAUREN KAWAM

Right now, I’m working on two stories. The one this blog is about is my solo project on what religion is meant to do in our lives.

Earlier this week, the group went to the BBC, had a tour and listened to many guest speakers. One of the speakers was Robert Pigott, a religious affairs correspondent. He spoke about how traditional news narrows the perspective on religion coverage and how, if religion is to be covered, it needs to be in a way where the reader/viewer has time to think. Basically, a 350-word story won’t cut it. Read the rest of this entry »


New Faith, New Family

June 12, 2009

One woman’s conversion from Catholicism to Islam

BY LAUREN KAWAM

DUBLIN, IRELAND—Her hair could have been red or blonde or even gray, but it was wrapped in a cream-and-gold-colored hijab. Only her blue eyes and full, rosy cheeks peeked out from behind the traditional headscarf worn by Muslim women.

Summayah Kenna was born into a traditional Irish Catholic family but has been practicing Islam for 33 years. She says her adopted faith has strengthened her trust in God and her love for her family. Over the years her family has come to accept her Muslim husband, Ibrahim, because they see how happy he makes her. “Seeing my family happy strengthened their belief in that I had made the right decision,” she says.

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“Oh, great, so what’s it gonna be … matzo and cupcakes?”

June 9, 2009

BY LAUREN KAWAM

This was sarcastically and rather crassly uttered by one of my fellow trip mates, Jim King, as we hear that we’re traveling to the gay and Jewish section of Paris on our first full day in the city.

We break into two groups so as to not intimidate the Parisians as we approach them for possible interviews. No one really knew what to expect as we went on a walk about through Le Marais (pronounced “luh maray”).

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