On November 14, the 2012 Festival of Faiths officially begins with the lighting of the Sacred Fire during an Opening Ceremony, which will take place at the George Garvin Brown Park (415 W. Muhammad Ali Boulevard, Louisville, Kentucky) at 5:15 p.m. Representatives from our country’s Indigenous (Native American) cultures will light the Sacred Fire with coals handed down from the Eternal Fire of the Potawatomi, one of the Native American Nations that are part of the Three Fires Confederacy.
Fire keepers from the Ojibway tradition were granted permission to light a Sacred Fire in 1995 for an international peace conference held near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where the fire burned for four days of the conference. Coals from this fire have since been used to light Sacred Peace Fires around the world. They now come to light the Sacred Fire for the Festival of Faiths during the Opening Ceremony.
The Sacred Fire will serve as the focal point in the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service, which will immediately follow the Opening Fire Ceremony and will take place at the Cathedral of the Assumption (433 South Fifth Street, Louisville, Kentucky). On the following day, the Sacred Fire will be transported to the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage, where the Festival of Faiths programs and activities will take place. There, the Fire Keepers will tend the Sacred Fire throughout the entire Festival and will graciously share their wisdom and knowledge about the Sacred Fire with Festival attendees.
With the Fire Keepers’ guidance, Festival attendees can make tobacco offerings at the Sacred Fire. Tobacco is one of the traditional sacred plants of the Indigenous people and is used to give thanks and carry our prayers to the Spirit World. When tobacco is placed on the fire, the smoke becomes our connection to the World of Spirit and ultimately the Great Mystery.