Cultures unit for special festive gathering in Sheffield

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Children and adults from a mix of cultures united for a special festive gathering in Sheffield.

More than 600 people of different origins and faiths joined forces at the city’s Pakistan Muslim Centre to get into the spirit of the season.

People from Sheffield’s Muslim community had taught some Eastern Europe ans a selection of Christian Christmas carols in English for the occasion, highlighting the multi-cultural vibe of the day.

Mukhtar Tufail, the centre’s operations manager, said: “When you see people for whom English is not their first language come on the stage and sing ‘Away In A Manger’ in English with such passion and devotion, then there really isn’t much left to say.

“This event has taught us that the Christmas festivities can truly bind us all together. The myths Christmas offends some communities have certainly been dispelled.

“This was a proud day for Sheffield, a memorable day in the history of multifaith community cohesion.”

Guests enjoying the festivities included people from the Sikh, Hindu, Bangladeshi, Roma, Slovakian communities along with local dignitaries. Mr Tufail said that, although many of the guests do not celebrate Christmas as part of their own religions, everybody gave it oomph when it was time to sing.

The centre, on Woodbourn Road, Attercliffe, has played a huge part in bringing together communities including Roma Slovak residents, following a series of complaints and cultural tensions around Page Hall and other areas.

To combat this, the center has committed itself to working with the Sheffield’s Roma Slovak community. One way has been the creation of a European Roma Community Forum, a group made up of Roma Slovakians passionate about improving community cohesion.

Another strategy was to improve communication skills amongst the new arrivals from Eastern Europe by teaching them Christmas Carols in English.

Mr Tufail said: “A mesmerising performance saw a group of extremely passionate Slovakian children performing Away in a Manger, Silent Night, and Jingle Bells.

“The evening was concluded with various foods being offered by Santa Claus and his Elves. As the crowds indulged into traditional Slovakian Goulash, Asian chicken Biryani and English mince pies, local singers performed some all-time Christmas classics.”