Christmas was a religious holiday for the Shakers from the start, said Lorraine Weiss, the education coordinator for the Shaker Heritage Society in Albany, but it was not originally a decorated holiday. “Over time, the Shakers took on more of the world’s cultural traditions, so they probably celebrated Christmas, giving gifts,” she said.

The Hindu Cultural Center in Colonie was hushed as a golden lamp on stage was lit “to clear away the darkness in our lives,” said teacher Sujatha Sharath.

With the season of thanksgiving on the horizon, celebrated by people of all religions in these United States, the Greenville Area Interfaith Council hosted a forum considering the question: What comes after death?