This was an event organised by the mayor of Glastonbury, in conjunction with the Pilgrim Reception Centre, to celebrate the number of different faith groups in the town. They sent a candle in a relay around various churches, temples etc throughout the day, and then invited everyone to congregate in Chalice Well gardens for a candle lighting ceremony: everyone who represented a particular group was asked to light their candle from the central relayed one and say a few words - in fact, no one, commendably, took it as an opportunity for grandstanding or speechmaking, possibly because we were all too cold. Thus, it was quite a brisk ceremony given that we had about 50 people directly participating and probably several times that in attendance. For the record, I was representing the occult: the perfect excuse for commenting, when the windblown candle failed to light, that there was a reason so many of us chose to work in the dark. It got a laugh, though.
Halfway through, I looked around at the collection of dog collars, robes, pentagrams and Sufi hats, and felt really proud of everyone. Most, if not all of the churches sent someone up, and the other faiths were pretty well represented although I think there were some demographic omissions: Glastonbury is too small to have its own mosque, for instance, but there are some individual Moslems in town. I managed to catch up with some of the Christians after the ceremony, and also have a chat with several people I've been wanting to talk to for some time. And then in time honoured fashion, we went to the pub.
I think this may become an annual event, and I hope it does. One of the most amusing things about all this has been the levels of frothing wrath that an account of the forthcoming event caused in some of the Guardian commentators: one would have thought that the population of Glastonbury been planning to don rucksacks and bomb central Damascus. Some people are obviously very threatened by the phenomenon of other people getting along and respecting one another's beliefs, but in the meantime, the rest of us can just get on with getting on with it.