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Exploring Religion in London

Updated Friday 3rd August 2018

Take a guided tour around 8 of London’s principal religious buildings in full 360° detail.

These videos use 360° technology so you can see all around the buildings. You can pan around in all directions by tapping on the video and dragging.

How to watch these 360° videos

360° video technology is new and isn't supported by all browsers and devices. For best results, use the Chrome browser on a desktop or laptop PC. If using a mobile or tablet, open our YouTube playlist in the YouTube mobile app where you can tilt your device to look around!

Wat Buddhapadipa Temple

The Buddhapadipa Temple is a Buddhist centre that was officially inaugurated by their Majesties, the King and Queen of Thailand on the 1 August 1966. It is introduced by Phramaha Bhatsakorn Piyobhaso. 

Transcript

Exploring Religion in London

Wat Buddhapadipa

Temple Phramaha Bhatsakorn Piyobhaso:

My name is Phramaha Bhatsakorn Piyobhaso.

I would like to welcome you to the Buddhapadipa Temple, as a part of a 360 video.

The main temple was completed in 1981, and we started in 1979. The building was designed by the national Thai architect, in a Thai style.

We wanted to show the western people that this is the Thai architecture.

At the moment there are seven resident monks. The head monk is pretty old – 92 years old. Quite often we have a visitor – like a visiting monk. But, there are seven resident monks, and all of us are living in the big house.

In the Buddha shrine room, we have 4 basic things. Buddha statue, candles, incense sticks and flowers.

For Buddhists, Buddha statues are not regarded as a worshipping idol. When you pay respect to the Buddha, or the Buddha statue, the Buddha statue can remind us of the Buddha.

So it is used as an object to remind us of the teacher. We use three incense stick to pay respect to the Buddha. Candles to pay respect or homage to the dharma, teaching. And then flowers to pay homage to the Sangha. We have Buddha, the father of Buddhism, the dharma for teaching, Sangha; the holy order. We call them Triple Gem.

We celebrate Magha Puja. On that occasion, the Buddha has laid down three admonitions, or the conclusion of his teaching: not to do all evil, to cultivate goodness and to refine one’s own mind. We normally walk around the main temple, or even the pagoda, for three times.

After that we proceed to the basement, to do the group chanting, and after the group chanting we listen to a dharma talk by the monks, and then after the talk we have the alms-giving ceremony by putting the non-perishable food into the monk’s bowl.

So we have dāna, giving, sīla; being moral and then bhāvanā, mental development through listening to the chanting and sometimes we even do a short meditation.

We offer meditation class to English speaking adults, followed by a short dharma talk. After that, meditation will take place. Beginners will be instructed and guided. Advanced meditators will be practising on their own. We call it a day retreat. We just meditate on your own, no instruction, we just do whatever meditation you prefer.

Mainly, they want a bit of fresh air, the meditators can go to that part of the temple ground to meditate on their own, to do walking mediation, to do sitting under the tree. So that no-one will go and disturb them.

Not all Buddhists practise meditation. Because there are three basic practises – dāna; giving, sīla; being moral, and then bhāvanā; mental development or meditation.

Many Buddhists simply like to do dāna; giving. They enjoy giving, they enjoy sharing. But, they don’t want to meditate. So meditation is not a must, but it is an option. In Buddhism, the people are not forced. If they want to develop themselves, meditation is a choice.

The black Buddha statue was donated to the temple by the late king of Thailand. Even the name was given by the late king of Thailand – Buddhapadipa.

When the late king died, we had a service for him. And when we had the new king, we also had the blessing and chanting for his health, and also for his long life as well.

This memory service, so when you would like to do the service for your beloved one that died a long time ago, like on the date that they die. So you can invite the monks to perform a chanting. We call it mātikā chanting. And then you offer a set of robe as an offering, and you offer a set of gifts and also a donation to the monks in order to dedicate merit to those departed friends or relatives.

We call it the blessed string. When we do the normal blessing chanting, we link the white string from the Buddha statue, because we are going to perform the chanting and we believe their energy will go through the string, and we make holy water.

On Sunday, we are always busy. We have visitors, because as I said before, we also have the Buddhism day school. The young children come to the temple to learn about Buddhism, Thai culture and Thai language. Their parents would come here to do chanting, meditate also, and even to have a chat with their friends and with their colleagues.

Most visitors are Thai, and they are Buddhists. I thought most of them live in London, some of them may travel quite far – like two or three hours to the temple.

I am proud of being a monk because I can help many people, and our job is to help people. Help the people who suffer. As a monk we are not married, so we don’t have a family. So we have time for the benefits of other people.

-End of mini-documentary-

Bevis Marks Synagogue

Hidden in a courtyard away from the main streets, London’s oldest surviving synagogue was built in 1701. It is introduced by the manager, Maurice Bitton. 

Transcript

Exploring Religion in London

Bevis Marks Synagogue

Narrator: Welcome to the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue, in Bevis Marks here in the centre of London. The oldest surviving synagogue in this country, that is still in daily use.

Our synagogue was built in 1701. It was built during the rebuilding of the city of London, after the great fire, and it was built by Joseph Davis, a church builder who was employed so that the building would blend in with the other places of worship in London. The last thing the community wanted was to stand out, so he was employed to make the building look as much like a church as possible.

The reason the synagogue is located where it is, is because when the planning permission was applied for, the authorities insisted that the synagogue should not be visible from the street. So, it’s hidden away in this courtyard and has been for over three centuries now. We’re literally on the very edge of the city.

There are two different types of Jew. You have Sephardic Jews, who are descended from those who escaped from the Spanish Inquisition, which are what we are. And you have Ashkenazi Jews who are more descended from Eastern European, Germany, Russia, Poland etc.

This is a Sephardic Synagogue; the word Sephardi actually means ‘Spaniard’ in Hebrew.

The word Synagogue actually means meeting room, so somewhere where Jewish people come together to pray.

Services are held in the Synagogue every single day. You have an early morning service midweek, for those who work in the City of London, and of course on the Sabbath and festivals the services are longer. There are services here every day of the week, 365 days of the year.

There’s no actual ritual involved in the preparation for prayer. The principal thing you do when you come in for men is to cover their head. You show respect to God by having your head covered.

The services are held in the main body of the synagogue. There’s a central reading platform, called the Tevah, which is where the service is conducted from. The reason the reading desk is in the centre, is very much a Sephardi tradition. Early Sephardi synagogues are based on the layout of the temple in Jerusalem, where the reading desk is in the centre. More modern synagogues have the reading desk in front of the ark, so that all the seats can face forwards. You’ll notice that our seats face inwards, and that’s so that we don’t have our backs to the reading while it is taking place.

The important thing to point out is that men and women don’t pray together in Jewish faith, so the men are downstairs, and the women are in the gallery. Men and women pray separately, much the same as they do in Islam, but during the services we pray alone. When you stand in front of the almighty, you’re along – whatever your partner has done or not done is irrelevant really. You’re the one that’s judged.

The centre of all Judaism is the Torah, of course. It’s the law, it’s the five books of Moses, it’s the basis of the Jewish faith.

All synagogues have an ark, because you must have a Torah. It’s got to be kept in a place that’s appropriate, and it’s got to be created with an incredible amount of respect. In the majority of Synagogues across the world, you will see above the ark something representing the 10 commandments.

There are actually 7 chandeliers in the synagogue and they represent the seven days of the week. There’s a larger one in the centre, which represents the Sabbath. And actually, there’s one other numerical thing in the synagogue and that’s the number of columns which support the ladies’ gallery. There are twelve of them, and they represent the twelve tribes of Israel.

There’s no religious significance in the candles – we do light them, but for effect these days, for things like weddings and festivals and special occasions because it looks so amazing. But there’s no religious significance in those candles.

-End of mini-documentary-

East London Mosque

One of London’s most prominent mosques, it opened its present building on the Whitechapel Road in 1985. It is introduced by the media and communications officer, Salman Farsi. 

Transcript

Exploring Religion in London

East London Mosque

Narrator: Welcome to the East London Mosque. The East London Mosque sits in London’s East End, a very diverse borough, and is home to the largest Muslim Community here in the UK.

The East London Mosque Trust is 106 years old. A campaign began to build a purpose-built mosque, and by 1985 a purpose-built mosque was opened to the community. This included a large minaret, from which the call to prayer is broadcast, and a striking gold dome which is a landmark nowhere in London’s East End.

It was opened by the Imam of Mecca, which saw about 15,000 people turn up here to pray. Very soon after, the community and the mosque together started a campaign to build The London Muslim Centre. By 2004 the London Muslim Centre was completed.

Thousands of Muslims come here because it is one of the largest Muslim Centres in the UK, and we get approximately 7,500-8,000 people here on a Friday to Pray. Muslims can pray anywhere, but mostly Muslims like to come to a Mosque. Muslims pray 5 times a day, the busiest day for the Mosque is for Friday Prayer, which is the special prayer equivalent to Sunday mass, or the Sabbath.

The religious figurehead of a Mosque is called an Imam. This is the individual that provides the religious and spiritual guidance to the congregation. The most important part of the Friday service is the sermon because it’s when Muslims listen to some advice from the Imam.

When it is time for prayer, everyone prays together in congregation led by the Imam. The Imam recites verses from the Holy Qur’an.

During Ramadan, we have Muslims coming from far and wide. Almost like being in Mecca, because of the number of worshippers that come here. It is a very sacred and unique experience for people.

We have a dedicated centre called the Maryam Centre for women’s projects and services and there’s a space for women to pray. Now women pray separate to the men – this is not because they are discriminated upon, it is because they choose to have their own prayer space.

The Mosque and Centre have over 33 projects and services in different areas. We have a project called Pro-Bono, which is a free legal advice clinic provided to the community, and it’s used by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. One of our training partners called Faith Region provides employment and IT support services. We have two schools based here, we have counselling projects for women.

The East London Mosque is definitely London’s local mosque. It is the mosque that is accessed not just by one community, but by many communities of different Muslims from all over London who come to pray in this mosque. We’re proud to have one of the largest mosques in Western Europe, based here in the heart of London.

-End of mini-documentary-

Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara

The largest Sikh gurdwara in London, in Southall, was constructed between 1997 and 2003. It is introduced by Paramjit Singh Virdi. 

Transcript

Exploring Religion in London

Southall Gurdwara

Narrator:

In Southall, West London, this is the largest Sikh temple in the UK. The building was purchased about 65 years ago, and then it was demolished and rebuilt about 12 years ago. It cost about £18 million to construct.

Gurdwara is a central place, where first of all people come to pray together because we believe God is present in a congregation.

Sikhs visit the Gurdwara twice a day if they can; early in the morning, and also in the evening after work.

In Sikhism, there is no special day throughout the year, but on a Sunday most people are free from work, so they tend to come for longer periods on a Sunday to the Gurdwara.

When a visitor comes to the Gurdwara, no matter who they are – Sikhs or non-Sikhs, they are all welcome – they must take their shoes off and cover their head with a scarf.

The main point of concentration is the guru grant sahib, that was appointed by the 10th guru. He gave us the message that you must treat Guru Grant Sahib as you would treat him, as a living person.

Guru Grant Sahib is kept at the head of the hall. And when people visit, they bow down as a sign of respect and also to send the message that they’re leaving their thoughts and taking on board his teachings.

The person waving the Chaur, it is something that was waved over kings and emperors through the centuries, and it is a tradition carried on to identify the guru and to show respect to the guru.

The sermons can be in different forms, the most common is Kirtan, which is passages from the Guru Grant Sahib being sung out with instruments, or for someone to give a passage, and tell us the means of the contents of that passage.

The sermons are led by the priest. In Sikhism, anybody can be a priest – man or woman, so any layperson can lead sermons as well.

Sikhs sit on the floor when visiting the Gurdwara, because the cross-legged pose is the best pose to concentrate on god and less on your body.

After a service, people are offered prasad, which is a sweet made here in the Sikh temple, so that they go away with a sweet taste in their mouth.

Anybody that visits is offered free food, no matter who they are Sikhs or non-Sikhs. In the langar, you will find that the meal served is vegetarian. Langar is for everyone, and secondly to stress that everyone is equal because everyone sits on the same platform to eat.

In Sikh philosophy, without charity, you cannot find God, so the Langar, the food, is a way of us all contributing towards the materials of the food, as well as helping to make the food and do the washing up. It is selfless service, seva is the word to describe selfless service.

The word Gurdwara: the first bit is Guru, the second bit is dwara. Dwara means a door, doorway, so the Gurdwara is a doorway into god’s kingdom.

-End of mini-documentary-

Jesus House

The Redeemed Christian Church of God’s complex near Brent Cross shopping centre in north London was founded in 1994 and has grown rapidly. It is introduced by Ayobami Olunloyo. 

Transcript

Exploring Religion in London

Jesus House for All the Nations

Narrator:

Welcome to Jesus House London, a parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and a member of the Evangelical Alliance. We are a congregation or approximately 3,000 people, who worship physically with us here at Brent Cross, but also online.

Our mission is to help people to pursue an intimate relationship with God, to discover their purpose in him, thereby maximizing our potential and consequently, impacting the lives of people in our community.

The building itself is an old office building, but we have made much investment and adaption to make it really work for our community.

We are based just underneath the North Circular, making it a good location for people to travel to from London and further afield.

We have made great progress to develop a church in North-west London, where thousands of people come from far and war to worship together every week.

The front foyer space is usually very busy on Sundays, as people often gather together at the cafe, which is a great spot for meeting new people.

We run three family services each Sunday, one being a French-speaking service, in addition to services for our children and youth.

Our services are held in our main hall, which seats up to 1,600 guests and is usually at least two-thirds full during each Sunday service - and on special events like Easter, or Thanksgiving Services then the rooms become full to the brim.

In fact, we are looking into building a purpose-built facility which could hold up to 5,000, such is the demand from people wanting to visit us to worship.

The service officially begins with an opening prayer led by a member of the congregation. This leads into a time of continuous praise and worship.

The congregation is led by the choir through one song after another in worship to God.

This then flows into ‘The Word’ which is the sermon portion of the service.

This is taken by one of our Pastors or a visiting Pastor, incorporating a bible study with anecdotes and real-life experiences.

People can also access teaching through our internet radio station and online streaming via YouTube.

We are committed to practical Christianity, so that whether locally or internationally, we try to ease the burdens of those less fortunate than ourselves.

This is done under the umbrella of our Church Social Responsibility arm, through various initiatives including The Christmas Lunch and Jesus, work we do with CAP (Christians Against Poverty), and Compassion UK.

Amongst some of our international missions, include medical missions abroad, work with Samaritan’s Purse in Liberia, and also with the Good Shepherd’s Home and Orphanage in India.

-End of mini-documentary-

Neasden Temple

A distinctive presence in suburban north-west London, the temple was built between 1992 and 1995 with materials imported from India. It is introduced here by Yogendra Narendra Shah. 

Transcript

Exploring Religion in London

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Narrator:

Namaste, Jai Swaminarayan

Welcome to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, London. Popularly known as the ‘Neasden Temple’, a sanctuary of vibrant Hindu worship in north-west London.

When devotees settled here in the UK, they looked for a place to worship.

As the number of devotes got more and more, we moved to Neasden, which is the warehouse, which is now converted in the Shayona Shop.

From there, the number of devotees grew even more. Then, in the early ‘90s, this site was purchased and this magnificent mandir was built.

The construction of the mandir is in true Hindu style. You should have no steel, or metal in the construction. So that mandir is made out of pure stone.

The stone was carved in India then shipped to London where each piece was assembled like a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle, all within two and a half years.

Not in modern times had a traditional stone mandir of this scale and intricacy been created outside of India.

His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, who inspired this Mandir, has always had the opinion that such Mandirs maintain culture, and bring peace of mind.

Hinduism is just about worshipping God, and people do it through different traditions. The Swaminarayan Sampradaya, or the Swaminarayan tradition, follow a particular path in that we worship Bhagwan Swaminarayan and follow his teachings.

The sanctum is the heart of the Mandir, and the murtis – or sacred images – are its very soul. All activities of the Mandir revolve around Murtis.

These deities are the focus of all forms of worship – from the daily arti, thal and abhishek, as well as darshan and other devotional acts of individual worshippers.

Darshan refers to the act of beholding the Deities with reverence and adoration.

It’s a time for personal worship, so you take in the energies of the Murtis, and you bring them into your heart. And you pray that may you remain in my heart and cleanse my soul.

When doing darshan, devotees join their palms and bow their heads in reverence and with respect to God. Some devotees will also chant the holy name of God often using a mala.

To further absorb the divine atmosphere of the Mandir, devotees can also be seen walking clockwise around the shrines. This is called performing pradakshina and consolidates the realisation that God is the centre of the universe and our lives.

Deities are served and looked after just like a living sovereign. This includes their ceremonial wakening, bathing, dressing and adorning, offering of food, and resting. Trained sadhus, or Hindu monks, attend to the Deities with a deep sense of reverence and meditative awareness.

Adjacent to the stone Mandir is the Haveli, a unique cultural centre exquisitely crafted from wood. It is a hub of activity for all who come to learn, worship and celebrate at the Mandir.

Hindu worship is primarily an individual act rather as it involves making personal offerings to the deity.

However, here in the Haveli, which can house thousands of people, weekly assemblies are held in the main hall where sadhus and experts deliver discourses on the history, theology and practical aspects of the Swaminarayan Sampradaya and Hindu faith.

I feel proud to see my heritage, here on my doorstep. And it’s great to see Indian culture, and Hindu culture, here in Northwest London.

-End of mini-documentary-

St Paul's Cathedral

The principal Church of England building in London was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built between 1675 and 1708. It is introduced by the Dean, Dr David Ison. 

Transcript

Exploring Religion in London

St Paul’s Cathedral

Narrator:

A very warm welcome to St Paul’s Cathedral, which has been here at the heart of the City of London for 300 years, and its iconic dome, built by Sir Christopher Wren, has been a symbol both of the city and of the Christian faith since then. We’re delighted that you can come and join us and find out more about what St Paul’s is all about.

St Paul’s is in the City of London, which is a relatively small area, and was the heart of the city until it grew and grew and grew, particularly from 1800 onwards.

So people still regard it as their church, even though nowadays there are over 50 parish churches and guild churches in the City of London, just 1 square mile.

But we are a church of significance for the City. We are also of significance for the wider city and the nation, because we are at the heart of the capital, and we are the largest church in London. That’s why it’s used for big occasions.

We’ve had, for example, the Queen’s Birthday and significant funerals such as Lady Thatcher and Sir Winston Churchill, and that affects how we work.

Its main purpose is as a place of Christian worship, but we are also a visitor attraction because of our history, and the visitors help to fund the running of the cathedral, so we can do our main purpose.

There is a tension between, are we a place to visit or are we a place to worship and pray in.

Experience will tell you that many of the people that come to visit will also use us as a place to pray, because they themselves will have some sort of religious faith which they’ll want to express and make use of in the building.

In fact, we have very few regular worshippers. Most of the people that worship and join us here are here as visitors of one sort or another.

In the cathedral we have four services every weekday and five on Sundays. Two or three times a day we will have a service of the Eucharist, which people participate in and the High Altar is the main place in the cathedral which focusses that – although we will use different altars in different places around the cathedral.

But again, you can sit and watch that or ask for a prayer if you wish to do so.

And there are many services that we have where the clergy or the choir will be doing the speaking or the singing.

The eastern end of the cathedral is the Quire, it’s Quire spelt with a Q and it’s where the choir sings – the singers.

So it is Christian worship, but it is publically open and we have a range of people – some of which will fully participate, and some of whom will sit back and simply watch. And either of those is fine.

In October 2011, there were the ‘Occupy’ protests going on around the world, and there was a march towards the stock exchange which is right next to the cathedral, which was not allowed to go into where the stock exchange was so they stopped outside St Paul’s.

The cathedral was caught up in that movement and that period, and trying to be there for everyone, whether it’s people in the city, whether it’s the protestors, whether it’s the ordinary people going about their business in London. It was quite hard to hold all those things together.

I came into the cathedral after the campers have left, and my role has been to help the cathedral to find its own voice, and to be clear about its purpose and its mission. So it’s made the cathedral more focussed, and intentional about the things that we are trying to achieve.

In 2013 we did some work here at St Paul’s on what are we for, and the top line of our vision statement is that we want to enable people in all their diversity to encounter the transforming presence of God in Jesus Christ.

So our aim is to give everyone an experience of God, whether they’re here for half an hour as a tourist, or whether they’re a regular worshipper who comes to church every week or every day.

And that’s what we see as our primary purpose, so what we do in our worship, and what we do in welcome, is try and give people not just some information, but a sense of what this is here and the building is saying about why we exist and what the world is about.

-End of mini-documentary-

Westminster Cathedral

The principal Roman Catholic Church in London was designed by John Francis Bentley and opened in 1903. It is introduced by Anne-Marie Micallef. 

Transcript

Exploring Religion in London

Westminster Cathedral

Narrator:

Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to Westminster Cathedral. Westminster Cathedral was started in 1895. Our architect was John Francis Bentley. The first mass was said in the cathedral in 1903, in our Ladies Chapel and the cathedral itself was consecrated in 1910.

We are the principal church of England and Wales. The Cathedral is a house of prayer. It’s in the centre of London, it’s a sacred space.

Catholics possibly may not view pilgrimage in the same way as other people view pilgrimage. But Catholics definitely come here to pay a visit. And I meet people every day of the week that comes to confession, or they’re passing on their way to Victoria and they pop in to say a prayer, or they pop in to hear mass. We have seven masses a day.

The church opens at seven, and from then until we close, we have a constant stream of people. So, it’s a very, very busy place with lots of masses going on, but it’s also a place where people come for private prayer. You see always, and there’s not a minute in this day when you will not see somebody here praying.

We have two side doors and a middle door, and when you come through one of the side doors the first thing you see is St Anthony, and underneath St Anthony, we have what we call candle cards. Their people will write their intentions, and once a week those cards are taken up and a mass is said for all those intentions.

The main body of the church is called the Nave. Nave comes from the Latin ‘Navis’, which means ship. And really in a way we are the ship, we’re the first church of the diocese to offer guidance and to steer people through the waters of the church.

Everybody has an uninterrupted view of what goes on in the altar. During mass, everybody can see what the priest is doing. I think most people’s eye would be drawn to the cross, which is called ‘The Great Rood’. You’ve got the pulpit, which has got an image of Our Lady of Walsingham, but your eye is drawn to the baldacchino, which is in yellow Verona marble.

Our Ladies’ chapel, which was one of the first parts of the cathedral to be completed and where they said mass first – you could spend all day in there and find something different each time.

The Blessed Sacrament Chapel, and next to it we have a very, very small chapel dedicated to the Sacred Heart, are used for private prayer all day.

And this year, in particular, we are having a lot of groups come, because of what we call the ‘Way of Mercy’. A pilgrimage way that people could follow for this year. We’ve been asked to reflect on what we mean by mercy. Mercy is something that you need to reflect on for yourself, but at the same time, which is why we have the last station, the Pope is asking us to think about going out and giving mercy to others. It seems to have captured the imagination of quite a number of people because we have a number of pilgrimage groups booked in.

I often say, as an aside, that working here, that by the time I finish my time I’ll see every catholic I’ve ever known. We get all sorts of people, from all sorts of places come through our doors.

-End of mini-documentary-

About these videos

These short videos are designed to replicate on screen the experience of visiting seven of London’s principal religious buildings through the use of 360° technology. Each building is introduced by a leading member of the community associated with it.

Although Christianity has long lost its historic religious monopoly, it remains the largest religious tradition in London, and has indeed seen some resurgence in recent years. Hence three out of the seven buildings are Christian ones. St Paul’s Cathedral represents the Church of England, still the national church with residual ties to the state although actively supported only by a minority of London’s Christians. Westminster Cathedral and Jesus House represent the two numerically largest Christian groups, Roman Catholics and Pentecostals. The latter have grown particularly rapidly since the turn of the millennium.

The other four buildings represent London’s (and the UK’s) four largest religious minorities. The early eighteenth-century Bevis Marks Synagogue is a striking physical reminder that religious diversity has a long history in this country dating back to the readmission of the Jews in 1656. Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs have also had a longstanding presence in London, although major purpose-built places of worship such as the Neasden Temple, the East London Mosque and the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara have only appeared in recent decades.

These buildings offer just one approach to the study of religion. They do however enable one to begin to appreciate some comparisons and contrasts between major traditions. To take the study further one needs, among other things, also to be aware of the countless smaller and inconspicuous places of worship to be found all over London and other towns and cities; to look at the rituals and practices taking place both in these buildings and in many other places; to understand the role of sacred texts and images in religious life; and to reflect on the nature and significance of religious experience. We should also balance the rich ‘insider’ perspectives offered in these videos with more detached academic analysis and remember that the rich internal diversity of religious traditions means that other ‘insiders’ might have different perspectives from the speaker in a particular video.

Explore more in religion

These films serve as a taster for a new Open University module, A227 Exploring Religion: Places, Practices, Texts and Experiences. The module will pursue all these issues in depth.

In the meantime you can watch, listen and study more about religion on OpenLearn—and it's all completely free.

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