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SIKHISM | Gur Gadi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji

20 October

Gur gadi is a Punjabi word meaning ‘Guru’s throne’, and it is used in reference to the accession of successive Sikh Gurus as the Head of the Sikh faith. The final, eternal Sikh Guru is not a person but the Sikh Holy Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib. The Gur gadi of Guru Granth Sahib is therefore the most celebrated in the Sikh calendar. Celebrations begin two days in advance, with the commencement of the Arambh Path – an unbroken recitation of Guru Granth Sahib that takes forty-eight hours to complete. On the day itself, celebrations include a nagar kirtan (procession), kirtan (devotional hymns), langar (sacred free food) and various sporting events.

Guru Granth Sahib was compiled in 1604 by the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev. He collated and edited the prayers and hymns of the four previous Gurus together with his own and those of Hindu and Muslim saints where he felt the sentiments echoed those of Sikhism. The result was a new Sikh Holy Scripture which was installed in Sri Harimandir Sahib (The Golden Temple) in Amritsar on 01 September 1604, and conferred the title of ‘Guru’ on 20 October that same year.

Sikhs show the same respect to Guru Granth Sahib as was shown to the human Gurus that were its predecessors. In gurdwaras (Sikh temples), the Holy Scripture rests in its own bed each night and it is ceremoniously fanned when recited from. It is not permitted to place Guru Granth Sahib on the ground, nor for any Sikh to turn their back to it. Most Sikhs do not have a copy in their own homes because it is so difficult to show it the respect it commands.

For more information about  Gur Gadi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji please click here

SIKHISM | Gur Gadi Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji 2017-09-12T10:32:55+00:00

HINDUISM | Diwali

19 October

Diwali is the Hindu New Year festival. It is the most important event in the Hindu calendar, beginning on the 15th day of the Hindu month, Kartika, and lasting for five days. The festival is an official holiday in many countries, including India, Fiji, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Singapore. Diwali is often known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ because at night, Hindus light up temples and homes with hundreds of diyas (lamps) to welcome Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity. Hindus believe that praying to Lakshmi will bring them good fortune in the coming year. Hindu’s also decorate their homes with colourful Rangoli patterns on the ground, in the hope that these will encourage Lakshmi to visit their homes. Traditionally these designs are painted onto the ground with a mixture of rice flour and water, or drawn with coloured powders.

The Story of Diwali            Prince Rama had a beautiful wife called Sita. One day Sita was kidnapped by Ravana, a demon king with twenty arms and ten heads. As Sita was carried away in Ravana’s chariot, she left a trail of glittering jewellery for Prince Rama to follow in the hope that he would find her and rescue her. Prince Rama followed the trail until he met Hanuman, the Monkey King. Hanuman agreed to help find Sita and sent messages to all the monkeys in the world, who in turn asked for the help of the bears. An army of monkeys and bears set out in search of Sita, who they found imprisoned on an island. As there was no bridge to the island they had to build one themselves. When the other animals heard what happened, they rushed to help. Once the bridge was built, all the animals of the world marched across to fight a fierce battle against the evil Ravana. The battle ended when Prince Rama killed King Ravana with a magic arrow. The world rejoiced and, as Prince Rama and Sita began their long journey back to their land, people lit oil lamps to guide them on their way and welcome them back. From this time forth, Hindu people have lit lamps during Diwali to remind them that light triumphs over dark and good over evil.

For more information about Diwali please click here

HINDUISM | Diwali 2017-09-12T10:33:05+00:00

SIKHISM | Bandi Chhorh Divas

19 October

Although Diwali (the festival of lights) is widely considered solely to be a Hindu festival, it is actually celebrated by Sikhs too, albeit for different reasons. Sikhs celebrate Diwali as Bandi Chhorh Divas (Prisoner Release Day) in respect of Guru Hargobind Ji’s release from Gwalior Fort prison on this day in 1619 AD. When, after several months of imprisonment, Guru Hargobind ji was granted release he was would not embrace his own fortune and refused to leave the fort until all fifty-two of the other Sikh prisoners were freed. Guru Hargobind Ji was given the name Bandhi Chhorh because the bandi (imprisoned ones) were chhorh (released) by Him.

When Guru Hargobind and the other prisoners reached the city of Amritsar, they arrived during Diwali. Overjoyed at seeing their Guru again, the people illuminated Amritsar and Sri Harimandir Sahib (the Golden Temple) with lamps and candles. They sang gurbani kirtan (devotional hymns) in his honour and recited prayers in veneration of his willingness to sacrifice his own freedom for the sake of other innocent lives.

Today the tradition lives on in Amritsar. Every year, the Golden Temple is filled with thousands of candles and floating lamps and its domes covered with strings of light. Sikhs in other communities around the world celebrate Bandi Chhorh Divas at gurdwaras (Sikh temples), which are illuminated with hundreds of candles at night. Shabad (devotional hymns) are sung in praise of Guru Hargobind, and festive meals are prepared in the Guru ka Langar (a community dining room providing sacred free meals).

For more information about Bandi Chhorh Divas please click here

SIKHISM | Bandi Chhorh Divas 2017-09-12T10:33:12+00:00

JUDAISM | Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah

11 to 13 October

Taking place immediately after Sukkot is another jubilant festival, lasting for two days (or one day, in Israel). No work is permitted during the period, and the focus of celebrations is the conclusion and resumption of the Torah-reading cycle. On the evenings preceding each of the two days, Jewish females light candles and recite blessings, and families gather together for festive meals.

On the first day, called Shemini Atzeret, prayers are made for rain as the festival marks the onset of the rainy season. In remembrance the souls of the departed, the Yizkor prayer is also recited. On the second day, called Simchat Torah or ‘The Joy of the Torah’, Jews take part in hakafot (circle) dances morning and night, marching and dancing around the synagogue reading table with Torah scrolls in their arms. Jewish men and children receive an aliyah (the honour of being called upon to read from the Torah) during the service. The service ends with the recommencement of the Torah reading, from the very beginning, on a second Torah scroll.

For more information about Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah please click here

JUDAISM | Shemini Atzeret / Simchat Torah 2017-09-12T10:33:20+00:00

JUDAISM | Sukkot

4 to 11 October

Beginning on the fifth day after Yom Kippur, the Festival of Sukkot is a joyful celebration of both historical and agricultural significance. Sukkot takes place over seven days, with no work permitted on the first and second days. On the remaining five days, known as Chol Ha-Mo’ed, work recommences. Also known as ‘The Season of our Rejoicing’ or ‘The Time of Our Joy’, Sukkot is a time when the nights are filled with music, song and dance as communities join together for nightly water-drawing celebrations. For Jews, this is both a contrast and a delight after the deeply sombre Yom Kippur festival a few days before.

Historically, Sukkot commemorates the forty-year period that the children of Israel spent wandering the Sinai Desert, living in sukkah (rudimentary huts), before reaching the Holy Land. To reaffirm their trust in God’s providence during Sukkot, Jews build temporary sukkot (plural: sukkah) to live in during the festival.

Agriculturally, Sukkot is a harvest festival and is often called ‘The Festival of Ingathering’. A tradition unique to Sukkot is the Taking of the Four Kinds: an etrog (citron), a lulav (palm frond), three hadassim (myrtle branches) and two aravot (willow branches). These represent the four types and personalities that make up the community of Israel, the intrinsic unity of which Jews show their respect for during Sukkot. The Four Kinds are also an integral part of the daily morning services which take place during Sukkot.

For more information about Sukkot please click here

JUDAISM | Sukkot 2017-09-12T10:33:26+00:00

ISLAM | Ashura

01 October

Literally meaning ‘ten’, Ashura takes place on the tenth day of the month of Muharram. It is the most significant day of Muharram, as it is the day that Muslims mourn the death of Hussein ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and son of Ali ibn Abi Talib, the first Shi’ite Imam. On the tenth day of Muharram 61 AH (680 AD) Hussein ibn Ali was brutally massacred along with his family and other followers during the Battle of Karbala. Hussein and his supporters are regarded as martyrs by all Islamic denominations but, while for Shi’a Muslims the massacre has a crucial role in their history, traditions and theology, for Sunni Muslims it does not influence tradition or theology and is mainly viewed as an historical tragedy.

Ashura observances differ between Shi’a and Sunni Muslim communities. For Shi’a Muslims, rituals and observances consist largely of public expressions of mourning and grief. Many communities organise matam (remembrance parades) with men gathering in the streets to take part in ceremonial chest beating. In Iraq, some Shi’a Muslims make a pilgrimage to the Imam Husayn Shrine to see the grave of Husayn ibn Ali, while in a number of countries, including Iran, the Battle of Karbala is re-enacted in special Condolence Theatre performances. Sunni Muslims often observe fasting on the ninth and tenth days of Muharram. Although not compulsory, Muslims who fast on the day of Ashura are believed to be rewarded with ten-thousand martyrs and ten-thousand people performing Hajj and Umrah (pilgramages to Mecca) on their behalf. Sunni Muslims also perform Nafl Salaat prayers, give charity to others, bathe, cut nails and apply surma (kohl eyeliner) to their own and others’ eyes.

For more information about Ashura please click here

ISLAM | Ashura 2017-09-12T10:33:38+00:00

JUDAISM | Yom Kippur

30 September

Known as The Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur marks the end of Rosh Hashanah, and is the most sacred and solemn of all Jewish festivals. It is on this day that Jews believe God makes His final decisions about what the coming year will bring for each and every person. The Book of Life is closed and sealed and Jews who have properly repented of their sins will be rewarded accordingly by God. As Yom Kippur is the only day of the year when there are five different services, Jews spend much of the festival in the synagogue. Other Yom Kippur observances include fasting and abstaining from sex, washing and perfuming oneself and wearing leather shoes.

The five services of Yom Kippur:

  1. The Kol Nodrei service (evening) – Includes the reading of the Kol Nidrei prayer and act of vidui (confessing of one’s sins). Prayer shawls are not usually worn for evening services, but Jewish men wear them to the Kol Nodrei service in honour of the special occasion.
  2. The Shacharit service (morning) – Includes morning prayers, the Shema, the Amidah prayer, reading of the Torah, and the Yizkor    
  3. The Musaf service – Takes place immediately after the Shacharit service. It includes Musaf Amidah, the cantor’s repetition of the Amidah, the Avodah and the priestly blessing.
  4. The Afternoon service – Includes Torah readings, the Amidah prayer, the cantor’s repetition of the Amidah, and the recital of Avino Malkenu.
  5. The Neilah service (closing) – Brings Yom Kippur to an end as God’s judgement is finally sealed and the congregation beseech God to hear the prayers of the community. Everyone stands for the duration of the service as the doors of the Ark are open. At the end of this final service, the shofar (ram’s horn trumpet) is sounded one final time.

For more information about Yom Kippur please click here

 

JUDAISM | Yom Kippur 2017-09-12T10:33:43+00:00

ISLAM | Muharram

21 September

Marking the beginning of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar, this is the Islamic New Year festival. Muharram is a sombre month for Muslims, who derive messages from Hussein ibn Ali’s sacrifice. Muharram celebrations and traditions differ between Sunni and Shi’a Muslims, and also between Muslim communities around the world.

Shi’a Muslims in countries including Afghanistan, Bahrain, india, Iraq, Lebanon and Pakistan organise matam (remembrance parades) with men gathering in the streets to take part in ceremonial chest beating. In Iraq, some Shi’a Muslims make a pilgrimage to the Imam Husayn Shrine on the grave of Husayn ibn Ali. In Iran, parts of south Asia, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago, the battle of karbala is re-enacted in special Condolence Theatre performances.

The word Muharram means ‘forbidden’ in Arabic. For this reason, many Muslims choose to fast on or around the Day of Ashura, the tenth day of Muharram. Mosques often provide nazar (sacred free meals) to Muslims between the ninth and eleventh days of the month. In the vast majority of countries, Muharram 2017 will begin on 21 September, but for a couple of countries it will begin the following day, on the 22 September.

For more information about Muharram please click here

ISLAM | Muharram 2017-09-12T10:33:49+00:00

HINDUISM | Navaratri

20 to 30 September

Falling in the Hindu month of Ashwin and lasting for nine nights, Navaratri is the longest and the largest festival in the Hindu calendar. It ends with Vijayadashami, another big festival. With Nav meaning ‘nine’ and Ratri meaning ‘nights’, the festival takes its primary name from the length of the celebrations. However, the festival is often known as ‘Durga Puja’ because during the festival Hindus worship the Goddess Durga and, through her, the shakti (feminine power). While the festival is joyfully celebrated all over India, it has particularly popularity in the state of West Bengal.

Over nine nights, the Goddess Durga is worshipped in nine different forms: Durga, the invincible; Bhadrakali, the auspicious and fortunate; Amba or Jagdamba, Mother of the universe; Annapoorna, giver of food; Sarvamangala, giver of joy all around; Bhairavi, the terrifying; Chandika, the violent; Lalita, the beautiful; Bhavani, the giver of life; and Mookambika, the one who listens. Hindus eat only vegetarian foods during Navratri, with many choosing to fast during the festival. Clay idols of Goddess Durga are brought into Hindu homes or public venues and people show their respect for shakti through their worship of these. At the end of the nine days, the idols are immersed into water to liquefy and return to the riverbed. Traditional Garaba dances take place at cultural organisations, hotels, clubs and on the streets, often featuring well-known celebrities.

For more information about Navaratri please click here

HINDUISM | Navaratri 2017-09-12T10:33:56+00:00

JUDAISM | Rosh Hashanah

20-21 September

A two-day festival in commemoration of the creation of the world, Rosh Hashanah is the Jews New Year celebration. Known as ‘The Days of Repentence’, it is a time when Jews ask for God’s forgiveness as he weighs up their good and bad deeds across the past year and determines their fate for the year ahead. During Rosh Hashanah, Jews visit synagogues to reflect deeply on their priorities in life, asking themselves who and what mean the most to them, what they have achieved thus far in life and what are their hopes and wishes for the future.

One important ritual that takes place in the synagogues during Rosh Hashanah is the blowing of the shafar (ram’s horn trumpet). This is played in a special rhythm for one hundred notes. After the shafar has been sounded, families return to their homes to enjoy a special meal together. Along with a number of traditional dishes, a pomegranate is often included on the table in respect of the Jewish tradition that the pomegranate has 613 seeds – one for each of the commandments that Jews vow to keep. The sounding of the shafar marks the beginning of ‘The Days of Awe’ – a ten-day period which ends with the festival of Yom Kippur.

For more information about Rosh Hashanah please click here

JUDAISM | Rosh Hashanah 2017-09-12T10:34:01+00:00

SIKHISM | Guru Granth Sahib

01 September

This is a festival in celebration of the installation of the Sikh holy scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, at Sri Harimandur Sahib (The Golden Temple) in Amritsar, India. The treasured scripture is at the heart of Sikh worship and devotion at Sri Harimandir Sahib, which was built in the late 16th century when Guru Granth Sahib was completed. In the early morning of Guru Granth Sahib day, Guru Granth Sahib is ceremoniously set on the Singhasan (throne) in the centre of the Temple’s sanctum. Passages are read from the scripture during the day and Sikh’s visit Sri Harimandur Sahib to pay their respects. In the evening, Guru Granth Sahib is respectfully returned to its usual resting place in the Akal Takhat, another building in the Temple complex.

Guru Granth Sahib was compiled in 1604 by the fifth Sikh Guru, Guru Arjan Dev. He collated and edited the prayers and hymns of the four previous Gurus together with his own and those of Hindu and Muslim saints where he felt the sentiments echoed those of Sikhism. The result was a new Sikh Holy Scripture which was installed in Sri Harimandir Sahib on 01 September 1604, and conferred the title of ‘Guru’ on 20 October that same year. For Sikh’s, Guru Granth Sahib is worshipped as the revealed word of God written by Sikh Gurus and Saints. The Holy Scripture consists of 1,430 pages written in Gurmukhi (the script of Punjabi), containing 5,894 shabods (revealed hymns of six Gurus) arranged into 31 ragas (musical groupings).

Sikhs show the same respect to Guru Granth Sahib as was shown to the human Gurus. In gurdwaras (Sikh temples), the Holy Scripture rests in its own bed each night and is ceremoniously fanned whenever it is recited from. It is not permitted to place Guru Granth Sahib on the ground, nor for any Sikh to turn their back to it. Most Sikhs do not have a copy in their own homes because it is so difficult to show it the respect it commands.

For more information about Guru Granth Sahib please click here

SIKHISM | Guru Granth Sahib 2017-09-12T10:34:07+00:00

ISLAM | Eid-al-Adha

01 to 04 September

Sometimes called ‘Feast of the Sacrifice’, this four-day festival commemorates Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishamael, when commanded to do so by God. When Ibrahim (Abraham in Judaism and Christianity) was just about to commit the sacrifice at the top of Mount Moriah, he was stopped by an angel and given a ram to sacrifice in place of his son.

At Eid-al-Adha, Muslims pray at home or visit mosques to listen to commemorative sermons. New clothes are worn as friends and family gather to exchange gifts, share food and worship together. Many families sacrifice an animal in a symbolic act known as qurbani. Meat from the sacrificed animal (typically a sheep, goat, cow or camel) is divided into three parts, with one part charitably donated to the poor, one part given to friends and neighbours, and the final part retained for the family.

The dates for Eid-al-Adha are often changed up to ten days before the start of the festival. This is because the Islamic calendar is based on observations of the Moon. For more information about Eid-al-Adha please click here

ISLAM | Eid-al-Adha 2017-09-12T10:34:21+00:00

HINDUISM | Ganesh Charurthi

25 August – 05 September

Also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, this ten-day festival takes place during the Hindu month of Bhadra and is a celebration of the birth of the elephant-headed God, Ganesha. Lord Ganesha is worshipped as the God of beginnings, the Lord of arts and sciences and the deva (god) of wisdom. He is the son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati

There are two different legends about Ganesha’s birth. In the first, the devas asked Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati to create a child to be a vighnakartaa (obstacle-creator) and a vighnahartaa (obstacle-averter) against impending demonic forces. In the second legend, Parvati sculpted a son from the dirt on her body when she took a bath, naming her new child Ganesha. When Lord Shiva returned to the house he found Ganesha standing guard at the bathroom door while Parvati finished her bath. Not recognising Ganesha as his son, Lord Shiva challenged him and cut of his head. When she found out, Parvati was distraught and to appease her, Lord Shiva promised to bring their son back to life. When the devas returned from their search for a new head, they presented Lord Shiva and Parvati with the head of an elephant. Lord Shiva fixed the head onto the body of Ganesha and brought him back to life.

In preparation for the celebrations, life-like clay models of Lord Ganesha are prepared. These can vary in size from a petite 2cm to over 7 metres. On the first day of the festival, the statues are placed on raised platforms inside homes or in ceremonial tents outside. In a ritual called pranapratishhtha, holy mantras are chanted as priests invoke life into the idols. This is then followed by special tributes, which include offerings of coconut, jiggery (palm sugar), modakas (rice flour preparations), durva (trefoil) blades and red flowers, as well as the anointing of the idols with red unguent or sandal paste. The ceremonies are accompanied by the singing of Vedic hymns and Ganesha stotra. On the final day of festivities, communities join together in song and dance as they process through the streets, carrying the Ganesha idols to nearby rivers. Here, after final offerings of coconuts, camphor and flowers, the idols are immersed into the water where they soften, liquefy and return to the river bed.

For more information about Ganesh Charurthi please click here

HINDUISM | Ganesh Charurthi 2017-09-12T10:34:32+00:00

JAINISM | Paryushan Parva

18 – 25 August

Meaning literally ‘abiding’ or ‘coming together’, Paryushan is the most important festival in the Jain calendar. It is a time of reflection, purification and confession for Jains, who take on temporary vows of study and food restriction, as well as practising daily meditation and prayer. Celebrations conclude with Jains confessing for any transgression of the five great vows, asking for forgiveness from all living beings and giving their own in return.

Many Jains take time off from work during Paryushan and impose further restrictions to their already vegetarian diets. Now they also chose to eliminate vegetables like potatoes, onions and garlic, which require the whole plant to be killed rather than just the taking of its fruit. Some Jains choose to fast for the duration of Paryushan Parva, breaking their fast at the end of the festival with a special meal in which they do not touch their food but are instead fed by friends and family in respect of their feat.

Jains are divided into two major sects – the Digambara (sky clad sect) and the Svetambara (white clad sect). For Digambaras, Paryushan lasts for ten days, whilst for Svetambaras, the festival lasts for eight days – there are a few differences in the Paryushan traditions of the two sects.

For more information about Paryushan Parva please click here

JAINISM | Paryushan Parva 2017-09-12T10:34:44+00:00

CHRISTIANITY | Feast of the Assumption

15 August

Alternatively known as the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Dormition of the Most Holy Mother of God, this day is a celebration of the Virgin Mary’s assumption into Heaven by God. Christians believe that when the Virgin Mary died, her body did not undergo physical decay but was instead received into Heaven to be reunited with her soul.

In many European countries, such as France and Italy, the day is a public holiday and people take to the streets to watch processions and firework displays. In Sicily and rural areas outside Rome, a special bowing ceremony takes place in which a statue of the Virgin Mary is carried through the streets to the parish church. Here, a statue of Christ is held aloft under a ceremonial arch of flowers. The two statues are made to ‘bow’ to each other three times before the Virgin Mary follows her son into the church for a special benediction.

For more information about the Feast of the Assumption please click here

CHRISTIANITY | Feast of the Assumption 2017-09-12T10:34:50+00:00

HINDUISM | Janmashtami

14 to 15 August

Janmashtami is a lively and colourful celebration of the birth of Krishna (born c. 3228 BC), one of the most popular Hindu deities. The festival takes place in the Hindu month of Sravana – usually August or September in the Gregorian calendar. Janmashtami lasts for two days, with many Hindus choosing to fast on the day and night of the first day. Their fasts are broken at midnight, when Krishna is believed to have been born, and Janmashtami celebrations become an altogether more joyous affair. Song, dance and drama are crucial to Janmashtami celebrations, with bhajans (traditional songs) sung, dances performed and plays about Krishna’s early life re-enacted.

In Hindu temples, bells are rung, the shankh (conch shell) is blown and holy mantras are chanted as images of Krishna are bathed and placed in cradles. Food has a central role in Janmashtami festivities. As Krishna was fond of milk, buttermilk and curds, celebratory foods are prepared based on these ingredients. Buttermilk also features in an unusual tradition in which a young boy carrying a handi (clay pot) filled buttermilk is lifted to the top of a human pyramid, where he smashes the pot and spills the contents.

For more information about Janmashtami please click here

HINDUISM | Janmashtami 2017-09-12T10:34:57+00:00

SHINTOISM | O-Bon

13 to 15 July

Bon is the Japanese word for lantern, but the O-Bon* or Bon festival is known both as the ‘Festival of Lanterns’ and the ‘Festival of Souls’. Taking place across three days, it is a time for spirits of the dead to make a brief return to their earthly homes. Many people return to their hometowns to tend family graves and to festoon the graveyard with paper lanterns and incense to guide the spirits of their ancestors. Homes are cleaned and illuminated inside and out with lanterns too. On the final evening of celebrations, Bon Odori (lantern dances) are performed and okuri-dango (farewell rice dumplings) are offered to the spirits. Celebrations end when the paper lanterns are taken to the nearest river or ocean where they float away, guiding the spirits back to Meidu, the celestial world of the dead.

* The ‘O’ is often attached to ‘Bon’ as an honorific prefix

For more information about O-Bon please click here

SHINTOISM | O-Bon 2017-09-12T10:35:13+00:00

BAHÁ’Í | Martyrdom of The Báb

10 July

This day commemorates the death of The Báb, Herald of the Bahá’í Faith. While The Báb (1819 – 1850) had many followers, his beliefs were not condoned by the leaders of Persia’s state religion. First they had him imprisoned but later they decided upon a harsher punishment, death. One of the Báb’s young followers begged to share his fate. The firing squad lined up and fired shots at The Báb and his follower. Yet, when the smoke cleared the young follower stood alone and unharmed, while The Báb appeared to have vanished. The guards found him later, sitting calmly and very much alive in his prison cell. Alarmed by the apparent ‘miracle’, the firing squad refused to fire at the men a second time. A new regiment was called for. The Báb and his follower were shot dead and their bodies thrown into a nearby moat, later to be rescued by supporters and buried in a dedicated shrine on Mount Carmel in Haifa, Israel.

Today the Martyrdom of The Báb is a day of rest. To commemorate the executions, Bahá’í’s recite prayers at midday – the precise time at which the executions are believed to have taken place.

For more information about the Martyrdom of The Báb please click here

BAHÁ’Í | Martyrdom of The Báb 2017-09-12T10:35:19+00:00

BUDDHISM [THERAVADIN] | Dharma Day

9 July

On Dharma day Buddhists around the world celebrate the day when Buddha began his teaching. Siddhartha Gautama was a wealthy prince who became disillusioned when he discovered the harsh realities of the world beyond the palace walls and chose to renounced his wealth and family. Determined to understand the truth of life, he decided one day to sit beneath the Bodhi Tree* (the tree of awakening). After meditating deeply on the subject, he achieved Enlightenment and became Buddha.

The Buddha taught that the idea that we exist as isolated entities is an illusion. All living things are interrelated; and we are part of that interconnectedness and do not have autonomous existence. Buddha taught a path from selfishness to generosity, from ignorance to wisdom, from hatred to loving-kindness. Openness, mindfulness, compassion and wisdom are the very heart of the Buddha’s teachings.

* Bodhi is the name for the tree under which Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment; it is a type of fig tree, scientifically known as Ficus religiosa.

For more information about Dharma Day please click here

BUDDHISM [THERAVADIN] | Dharma Day 2017-09-12T10:35:25+00:00

SHINTOISM | Tanabata Matsuri

07 July

Tanabata Matsuri (Star Festival) is devoted to two stars who are in love but only allowed to meet just once a year. According to Japanese legend, Kenoyu (Altair, or the cowherd star) and Shokujo (Vega, or the weaver star) fell deeply in love only to be torn apart by the vast expanse of the Milky Way. One day, a tiding of magpies forms a bridge across the Milky Way and the two stars are reunited once more. Although they cannot stay together for ever, they are allowed to meet for one day each year, on Tanabata Matsuri.

The custom of offering prayers to the cowherd star for a fruitful harvest and to the weaver star for skill in weaving has given rise to the festival’s other alternative name, ‘Weaver Festival’. Young people celebrate by writing their hopes and wishes for the coming year onto strips of paper which they then hang on makeshift bamboo constructions in their gardens. At school, children write prayers to the stars for success in their studies. The festival has been celebrated in Japan for centuries, originating from an earlier Chinese custom.

For more information about Tanabata Matsuri please click here

SHINTOISM | Tanabata Matsuri 2017-09-12T10:35:32+00:00