Rhiannon_REEP

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ISLAM | Eid-ul-Fitr

25 June

One of the two major holidays in the Islamic calendar, Eid-ul-Fitr takes place at the end of Ramadan and marks the end of a month of strict fasting and prayer. First celebrated in 624 CE by the Prophet Muhammad along with his family and friends, Eid celebrations today begin with the first sighting of the new moon in Islamic countries.

During Eid, Muslims give prayer and thanks to Allah for the help and strength he gave them to exercise self-control during Ramadan. Special Eid services are held in mosques and in public places outdoors, and processions take place in the streets of many towns and cities.

Central to the Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations is the lavish feast, with families getting together to enjoy their first proper meal together for a month. Many Muslims also attend communal prayers, listen to khutba (a sermon) and give zakat al-fitr (charity in the form of food). Gift-giving is also traditional at Eid, as are new clothes and festive decorations for the home.

For more information about Eid-ul-Fitr please click here

ISLAM | Eid-ul-Fitr 2017-09-12T10:35:43+00:00

HINDUISM | Ratha Yatra

25 June

Meaning ‘chariot festival’, the Ratha Yatra festival is the parade of the chariots of the Hindu deities, Lord Jagannatha, Subhadra and Balarama. The spiritual home of the festival is the Jagannatha temple in the city of Puri, Eastern India but it has been celebrated by Hindus in the Western states since it was introduced by the spiritual teacher, Sria Prabhupada, in 1967. Today, the festival is sometime known as Lord Jagannatha’s Divine Festival, and is celebrated by Hindus all over the world.

During Ratha Yatra, statues of the Hindu deities are removed from temples, loaded onto huge chariots and paraded through the streets in exuberant procession. Crowds line the streets to greet the chariots with jubilant singing, dancing and chanting the maha-mantra (the great mantra for deliverance) to the rhythmic sounds of cymbals and drums. After the procession, Hindus celebrate with a festival and feast of prasadam (sacred free vegetarian food).

Interestingly, the English word juggernaut comes from the Ratha Yatra chariots made in Jagannatha’s honour. For more information about Radha Yatra please click here

HINDUISM | Ratha Yatra 2017-09-12T10:35:50+00:00

SIKHISM | Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev

16 June

Today, Sikhs commemorate the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth of the ten Sikh Gurus. Guru Arjan Dev is cherished by Sikhs for a number of reasons. Firstly, Guru Arjan Dev laid the foundations of the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar, India, designing it with four doors symbolising its acceptance of people from ‘all castes and all creeds from whichever direction they come and to whichever direction they bow.’

Secondly, Guru Arjan Dev’s collation of the previous four Gurus’ writings into one volume formed the basis of the Sikh Holy Book, Guru Granth Sahib, which went on to become the eleventh and final Sikh Guru. Thirdly, he became the first Sikh martyr and awakened the Sikh community to the horrors of violence when he was arrested and tortured to death by the Mughal Emperor in 1606. Previous to the Guru’s martyrdom Sikhs had renounced all violence and weaponry in their pursuit for peace and harmony for all peoples of the world.

Sikhs observe the Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev with prayers, kirtan (devotional hymns) and katha (lectures on Sikhism). For more information about the Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev please click here

SIKHISM | Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev 2017-09-12T10:35:57+00:00

CHRISTIANITY | Corpus Christi

15 June

Translating from the Latin to mean literally ‘body of Christ’, Corpus Christi falls on the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. The festival is observed primarily by Roman Catholics who celebrate the Eucharist as the body of Christ

At Corpus Christi, Catholics attend Mass to receive the Eucharist (also known as Holy Communion), where they partake of bread (or often a wafer) and wine that have been consecrated to become the physical body and blood of Christ. Although no longer a practice in the UK, triumphant processions take place in other Catholic churches around the world. During these processions the ‘sacred host’ (a consecrated wafer) is carried out of the church for the Christian faithful to proclaim the truth of the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the actual body of Christ.

For more information about Corpus Christi please click here

CHRISTIANITY | Corpus Christi 2017-09-12T10:36:04+00:00

CHRISTIANITY | Trinity Sunday

11 June

Taking place on the first Sunday after Pentecost, Trinity Sunday is the day on which Christians celebrate the Holy Trinity. The Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the Christian belief that God participates in the world in three forms:

  • God the Father, who creates and sustains the world in every moment
  • God the Son, who lived in the world so that ‘the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption’ (Romans 8:21)
  • God the Holy Spirit, who can act through all things to renew humans and the whole creation.

Known officially as ‘The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity’, Trinity Sunday is the only major Christian festival that celebrates a doctrine rather than a person or an event. Christians observe the day by attending church services dedicated to the theme of the Holy Trinity. Ministers symbolically wear white to symbolise the purity, holiness, and virtue of the Holy Trinity.

For more information about Trinity Sunday please click here

CHRISTIANITY | Trinity Sunday 2017-09-12T10:37:05+00:00

CHRISTIANITY | Pentecost

4 June

Taken from the Greek pentekoste meaning ‘fiftieth’, Pentecost takes place exactly fifty days after Easter Day and is a festival commemorating the day when the Holy Spirit is said to have descended upon Christ’s Apostles. The Christian Pentecost has its origins in the earlier Jewish Shavout festival.

Christians believe that God participates in the world in three forms:

  • God the Father, who creates and sustains the world in every moment
  • God the Son, who lived in the world so that ‘the creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption’ (Romans 8:21)
  • God the Holy Spirit, who can act through all things to renew humans and the whole creation.

The arrival of the Holy Spirit completed the Holy Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and therefore, the Christian God. Pentecost is thus a celebration of the birth of the Christian Church. Celebrations at Pentecost are joyous; church services are replete with uplifting Hymns, and Ministers dressed in robes of red to symbolise the flames in which the Holy Spirit came to earth.

For more information about Pentecost please click here

CHRISTIANITY | Pentecost 2017-09-12T10:37:12+00:00

JUDAISM | Shavuot

30 May to 1 June

Shavuot takes place fifty days after Passover. The days between the two festivals have special significance for Jews, who verbally count the forty-nine days in a practice known as Sefirat HaOmer (Counting of the Omer). Commemorating the revelation of the Torah on Mt. Sinai to the Jewish people, Shavuot is firstly a festival of the giving and the receiving of Torah. However, due to the association of Shavuot with the wheat harvest described in Deuteronomy 16, it is largely celebrated as the Jewish harvest festival. As such, Jews sometimes refer to Shavuot by a number of other names, including ‘The Feast of Weeks’ and ‘The Day of First Fruits’.

Jews observe Shavuot by abstaining from work and by attending special services at a synagogue to give thanks for the Torah and for the ‘first fruits’ of the wheat harvest. In respect of the revelation of the Torah, Jews customarily study Torah all through the night of Shavuot in a practice called Tikkun Leil Shavuot.

For more information about Shavuot please click here

JUDAISM | Shavuot 2017-09-12T10:37:19+00:00

ISLAM | Ramadan

27 May to 25 June

Beginning on a new moon day, Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar. As the Prophet Muhammad is believed to have received the first revelations of the Qur’an during Ramadan, it is a very sacred time for Muslims. During Ramadan, they show their devotion to Allah through a month-long period of fasting and prayer.

Muslims are required to fast every day from dawn to dusk. As sawm, the Arabic word for fasting, means ‘to refrain’, Muslims must fast not only from food and liquid but also from evil thoughts, words and actions such as smoking and engaging in sexual relations. This ritualistic fasting is of such great importance to Muslims that it is one of the five pillars, or duties, of Islam. Ramadan is also a time for Muslims to seek spiritual renewal through deep contemplation and prayer, and also by showing charitable generosity.

For more information about Ramadan please click here

ISLAM | Ramadan 2017-09-12T10:37:26+00:00

CHRISTIANITY | Ascension Day

25 May

At Ascension, Christians commemorate the day when Christ’s apostles are said to have witnessed the bodily ascent of Jesus Christ into heaven. The Ascension of Christ is believed to have taken place 39 days after his crucifixion on Easter Day, thus Ascension Day marks the 40th day of the Easter Period.

Ascension Day is not a public holiday in the United Kingdom. However, it is given as a public holiday in many European countries, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Ascension Day celebrations differ greatly between countries, but often include processions which symbolise the bodily ascension of Christ. Many Christians attend special church services on Ascension Day where they make prayers and sing hymns in commemoration. The Eucharist (Holy Communion) is also offered to the congregation in many Catholic services.

For more information about Ascension Day please click here

CHRISTIANITY | Ascension Day 2017-09-12T10:37:33+00:00

BAHÁ’Í | Declaration of The Báb

22 to 23 May

The Declaration of The Báb is a Bahá’í festival commemorating the day, in 1844, when a young merchant from the Iranian City of Shiraz prophesied the coming of a new messenger from God. Renaming himself for the Arabic for Gate, Báb, the Prophet soon gained thousands of followers and his calls for spiritual and moral reform laid the foundations of a new faith. Bahá’í was formerly founded as a religion six years later when Bahá’u’lláh was recognised as the Manifestation of God, fulfilling the Báb’s prophesy.

The Declaration of The Báb begins two hours and eleven minutes after sunset on 22 May in respect of the precise time The Báb is believed to have declared himself. All work is suspended the following day, when Bahá’í’s celebrate their Prophet with prayers, storytelling and reflection.

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

BAHÁ’Í | Declaration of The Báb 2017-09-12T10:37:39+00:00

ISLAM | Lailat ul Bara’h

11 May 2017

Lailat ul Bara’h takes place on the fifteenth night of the Islamic month Shabaan, exactly two weeks before the beginning of the Ramadan period. The festival is often referred to as the ‘Night of Forgiveness’, as it is the literal translation of the Arabic layltun (night) and baraat (forgiveness). On Lailat ul Bara’h, Muslims make special night time prayers to God to ask His forgiveness for their sins. These prayers are very important because, according to Islamic tradition, it is on the night of Lailat ul Bara’h that one’s destiny is fixed for the year ahead. In addition to prayers, it is traditional for Muslims to visit their relatives’ graves and to make charitable donations to the poor and needy. For more information about Lailat ul Bara’h please click here.

ISLAM | Lailat ul Bara’h 2017-09-12T10:37:47+00:00

BUDDHISM [Theravada] | Vesak

10 May 2017

Vesak, Visakah Puja or ‘Buddha Day’ is the most important festival of the year for Buddhists in Theravadin countries. Falling on the first full moon day of the Indian lunar month of Vesakha (May/early June), the festival commemorates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and ‘passing’ into Nirvana, no more to be reborn. According to Buddhist scriptures, these three events all took place on a full moon day during Vesakha. Many Buddhists pay tribute to the Buddha at their local temple during Vesak, with some choosing to stay for the entire day and night of the full moon. Celebrations are centred on the practices of giving (usually offerings of food and symbolic offerings for the temple), virtue (reaffirming one’s commitment to Buddhist morals), cultivation (chanting, meditation and attending sermons), and carrying out good and meritorious deeds. For more information about Vesak please click here

BUDDHISM [Theravada] | Vesak 2017-09-12T10:37:55+00:00

SHINTOISM | Kodomo No Hi

05 May

Alternatively known as Shobu No Sekku, this festival has its origins in the distribution of the medicinal shobu (iris) to protect to protect communities from illness. Today, Kodomo No Hi has evolved into a day for families to pray for the health and prosperity of the sons in their family. Japanese legend tells the story of a carp that swims upstream to become a dragon. The strength and determination of the carp to overcome all obstacles and the energy and power it found to swim against the strong current are held up to Japanese boys as qualities they should strive towards. In respect of this, families raise up koinobori (carp streamers) on Kodomo No Hi – one for each of their sons. It is also customary to display a special doll called a kintaro, which represents the legendary Samurai warrior, Minamoto no Yorimitsu.

For more information about Kokomo No Hi please click here

SHINTOISM | Kodomo No Hi 2017-09-12T10:38:05+00:00

Happy St. George’s Day!

On St George’s Day, English people remember England’s patron saint, St. George, who died on April 23. According to legend, St. George was a Roman soldier who killed an evil dragon and saved a beautiful princess. St. George’s Day is England’s national day but it is no longer a public holiday. Celebrations traditionally include parades and dancing. Many buildings fly the English flag which bears the red and white cross of St. George. Some people chose to wear a red rose as a mark of respect. For more information see https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/uk/st-george-day

 

Happy St. George’s Day! 2017-04-23T07:53:24+00:00

ISLAM | Lailat al Miraj

23 April 2017

Lailat al Miraj is an Islamic festival commemorating the revelation of Salat through the Prophet Muhammad’s night time journey and ascent to heaven. According to Islamic tradition, after the Prophet was visited by two archangels during his sleep, he journeyed from Mecca to the ‘Farthest Mosque’ in Jerusalem in a single night. On reaching Jerusalem, the Prophet ascended to heaven where he was purified and instructed by God that Muslims had a duty to recite Salat (ritual prayers) five times each day. During Lailat al Miraj celebrations, Muslims recount the story of the Prophet Muhammad to their children and recite special prayers at night. For more information about Lailat al Miraj please click here

ISLAM | Lailat al Miraj 2017-09-12T10:38:17+00:00

BAHÁ’Í | Festival of Ridván

21 April – 2 May 2017

The Festival of Ridván is a twelve-day Bahá’í festival commemorating the twelve days that the Bahá’í founder, Bahá’u’lláh, spent in 1863 in the Garden of Ridván. Ridván celebrations begin at sunset on 21 April and finish at sunset on 2 May. The first, ninth and twelfth days of Ridván are the holiest days of the Festival, as they commemorate the arrival of Bahá’u’lláh at the Ridván Garden, the arrival of Bahá’u’lláh’s family, and Bahá’u’lláh’s departure respectively. On these days, all work is suspended and communities come together for prayer and celebrations. For more information about the Festival of Ridvan please click here

BAHÁ’Í | Festival of Ridván 2017-09-12T10:38:29+00:00

CHRISTIANITY | EASTER DAY

16 April 2017

Easter Sunday or Easter Day is the most important festival in the Christian calendar, as it is the time when Christians commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ three days after his crucifixion. According to Christian tradition, when Jesus’s followers visited his tomb they found the entrance open and the tomb empty. When later Jesus appeared to the Apostles, they concluded that God had resurrected Jesus from the dead. Many churches begin their Easter Sunday celebrations at midnight and services often begin in complete darkness. Then, twelve candles are lit and used to light others, bringing light to the church once more. This ritual has great symbolism for Christians as it reminds them that Jesus is the light of the world and that his resurrection at Easter was a triumph over the darkness of evil. For more information about Easter Day please click here

CHRISTIANITY | EASTER DAY 2017-09-12T10:38:36+00:00

CHRISTIANITY [ORTHODOX] | Pascha [Easter Day]

16 April 2017

While Western Christian churches use the Gregorian calendar, Orthodox Christian churches use the Julian calendar, which preceded it. Usually this means that the dates for Easter differ from those of Western Christianity, but this year they correspond. Countries which officially observe the Orthodox Easter period include Bulgaria, Cyprus, Greece, Lebanon, Republic of Macedonia, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine. As with the Easter Sunday of Western Christian tradition, Pascha commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion. For more information about Pascha please click here

CHRISTIANITY [ORTHODOX] | Pascha [Easter Day] 2017-09-12T10:38:43+00:00

SIKHISM | Vaisakhi

14 April 2017

Vaisakhi is a Sikh festival commemorating the beginning of Sikhism as a collective faith with the founding of the Khalsa Panth – a family of soldier saints – by Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. Sikhs ready to join the Khalsa Panth are baptised during Vaisakhi. Khalsa means ‘pure’ and, once baptised, Sikhs must retain their purity by resolving not to cut or remove any bodily hair, not to use intoxicants such as alcohol or tobacco, not to eat meat and not to commit adultery.

Traditionally Vaisakhi was an harvest festival in the state of Panjab in modern day India, but it has come to be known as the Sikh ‘New Year’ festival because it falls on the first day of Vaisakh, the first month in the Sikh calendar, Nanakshahi. Traditional Vaisakhi celebrations include worship, kirtan (devotional hymns), parades, martial arts demonstrations, gatka (dancing with wooden swords), jangar (sacred free vegetarian food), and fireworks.

For more information about Vaisakhi please click here

SIKHISM | Vaisakhi 2017-09-12T10:38:51+00:00

CHRISTIANITY | Good Friday

14 April 2017

Taking place immediately after Maundy Thursday, on the last Friday before Easter, Good Friday is a Christian holiday commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The day is a solemn one of mourning for devout Christians, who reflect on the meaning of Christ’s sacrifice. On Good Friday churches are usually unlit with no festive decorations or flowers. In some churches, statues and paintings are also covered up. Many Christians attend a special church service at 3pm, as this is believed to be the time at which Christ died on the cross. The name ‘Good Friday’ is thought to have evolved from the earlier ‘God’s Friday’ or ‘Holy Friday’. For more information about Good Friday please click here

CHRISTIANITY | Good Friday 2017-09-12T10:38:59+00:00