On Thursday 14th February we took a small group of Christians to meet one of Leicester's Hindu communities. On arrival at ISKCON, the group from the Community of the Tree of Life were greeted by Guru Das, one of the resident monks at ISKCON Leicester. Pradip Gajjar, the president, had arranged for him to meet with our group to talk about what it’s like being a monk in this city. For those of you who are unaware, the Community of the Tree of Life is a new monastic community within the Diocese of Leicester, and so Guru Das’ willingness to engage with the group promised to be an excellent starting point for dialogue.

Pradip and Guru Das welcomed us into the worship hall, where Pradip explained a little about the murtis. As we were leaving the room, Pradip pointed at the hoodie one of the Christian guests was wearing and said “we too have our own Tree of Life programme!” And so began a fantastic dialogue around images such as being rooted, flourishing and fruitful and what it means for both Christians and Hindus in these particular communities. Both Guru Das and Pradip also gave the group free rein to ask whatever questions they wished, and it was a fantastic opportunity for them all to gain insight and to ask questions that they haven’t had the opportunity to do so before.

The group departed from their new friends with a promise of inviting them to their place of residence once it is completed (hopefully after Easter) and the Community have moved in. Both Guru Das and Pradip are delighted at the prospect of having new neighbours, only a few minutes’ walk away, who practise a regular rhythm of prayer and worship. Whilst they have their obvious differences there is also much that each community can learn from each other, and I hope that this was just the first step towards building a fantastic relationship across religious boundaries.