Religious Holy Days

August 2019

For Native Americans, August marks the season of Wilhoon, the season marking the salmon runs of late summer; the Hopi Snake Dances, marking a sixteen-day ritual of purification; the Stomp Dance, performed by Seminole and other Oklahoma tribes as a time of renewal and purification; the Sun Dance, observed by Plains peoples (Arapaho, Cheyenne, Shoshone, Arikara, Crow, Sioux, and others) as a time of penitence and sacrifice; and the Iroquois Green Corn Ceremony, a time of renewal involving dances, fasting, offerings, and readings from the code of Handsome Lake.

Thursday, August 1
Kamál – Bahá’í 
The beginning of the eighth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “perfection.”
Lughnassadh [Lammas] – Wicca
The harvest of first fruits, celebrating the harvest of corn and wheat.  Wiccan practitioners see this time as a signal of the god Lugh’s decline of strength as the sun rises farther south each day, while the Goddess witnesses this season with sorrow and joy.  It is both a somber and celebratory feast day.

Monday, August 5 
Feast of the Transfiguration – Christianity (Eastern and many Western churches)
Celebrates the manifestation of Jesus’ divinity as God’s Son to his disciples Peter, James, and John on Mount Tabor.  In Eastern churches, the celebration begins at sunset; for Western churches, this feast is marked on the following day, Tuesday, August 6th. 

Thursday, August 8
Fravardeghan Days [Muktad] begin –  Zoroastrianism
A time of memorializing one’s ancestors in preparation for Nowruz [see August 17], according to Zoroastrians who follow the Shenshai calendar.

Saturday, August 10
Yaum-al-Arafah – Islam
This day is the most important for Muslim pilgrims undertaking the Hajj journey; believers implore Allah for boundless forgiveness and mercy on the plain of ‘Arafāt, adjacent to the holy city of Mecca.   
Tisha B’Av – Judaism
A solemn day of mourning and fasting for the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem, as well as other tragedies in Jewish history coinciding with this date, beginning at sundown.

Sunday, August 11
Eid al-Adhá – Islam
This three-day festival of sacrifice begins at sundown and is the concluding act of pilgrimage for Muslims; adherents offer sheep, goats, and camels, whose meat is then distributed to the poor.

Wednesday, August 14
Dormition of the Theotokos or Most Holy Mother of God – Christianity [Eastern churches]
According to the Orthodox Church, this day marks Mary’s death and resurrection by God, as a sign to all believers of their ultimate destiny.

Thursday, August 15
Assumption of the Virgin Mary – Christianity [Catholic churches]
According to the Catholic Church, this day commemorates how, at the end of her life, Jesus’ mother Mary was assumed—body and soul—into heaven, where she intercedes for all believers.  
Zhōngyuán Jié [Ghost Festival] – Taoism  
According to Chinese Taoist belief, this day is when deceased ancestors visit the homes of the living.  Families prepare feasts and set tables with empty chairs so that the living and the dead can share the meal together.
Narali Purnima or Rakhi or Raksha Bandhan – Hinduism
Celebrating the end of monsoon season, marked by throwing coconuts to Varuna, the sea god. During this festival, girls and women tie amulets on their brothers’ wrists for protection against evil.

Saturday, August 17
Nowruz – Zoroastrianism
The start of the New Year for Zoroastrians who follow the Shenshai calendar, beginning the year 1389 AY [After Yazdegird III, the last of the Persian Zoroastrian monarchs]. 

Tuesday, August 20
Asmā’ – Bahá’í 
The beginning of the ninth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “names.”

Thursday, August 22
Khordad Sal – Zoroastrianism
The birth anniversary of the prophet Zarathustra (Zoroaster), according to the Shenshai calendar.
Saturday, August 24
Sri Krishna Jayanti or Krishna Janmashtami – Hinduism
A festival celebrating the birth of Krishna, the eighth incarnation of the god Vishnu, whose purpose was to destroy the demon Kansa who was responsible for evil’s increase in the world.
Festival of Ksitigarbha (Jizō) Bodhisattva – Buddhism
Celebrating Ksitigarbha (Jizō) Bodhisattva, the savior of beings who suffer in the hellish realms, as well as the guardian of expectant mothers, travelers, and deceased children in Japanese culture. 

Monday, August 26
Ullambana – Buddhism
A day when Buddhists make offerings to the Triple Gem—the Buddha, the Dharma [teachings], and the Sangha [monastic community]—on behalf of their ancestors.   
Paryusana or Paryushan Parva begins – Jainism
The beginning of an eight-day festival that is considered a holy convocation by Jains.  Believers impose restraints on their daily activities by fasting, meditation, and prayer.  The last day of Paryusana is called Samvatsari (Tuesday, September 3rd) and is a solemn occasion for examining one’s thoughts and feelings, and for asking forgiveness for offenses committed against others through deeds, words, or thoughts.  

Friday, August 30
Ra’s al-Sanat al-Hijriyah: Islamic New Year [First of Muharram] – Islam
Commemorating the migration of the prophet Muhammad and his small band of followers from Mecca to Medina in 622 C.E., in order to escape persecution and to establish the first Muslim community.  The Islamic year 1441 begins at sundown.

September 2019 

For Native Americans, September marks the season of Genuuqwiikw, the season of mountain trails and the beginning of the fall hunt for game; the Iroquois Green Corn Ceremony, a time of renewal involving dances, fasting, offerings, and readings from the code of Handsome Lake; and the Jicarilla Apache Ghost Dance in New Mexico.

Sunday, September 1
First Parkash – Sikhism
The commemoration of the installation of the Adi Granth, the first edition of the Sikh scriptures, in the Golden Temple by Arjan Dev, the fifth Sikh guru, in 1604 C.E.

Monday, September 2
Ganesh Chaturthi – Hinduism
A festival celebrating the birth of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god and son of Shiva and Parvati who removes obstacles and brings luck.

Tuesday, September 3
Das Laxanä Parva [Daslakshan Parva] begins – Jainism
The Festival of the Ten Virtues, celebrated over ten days by the Digambara Jains, helps believers to recall and practice forgiveness, tenderness or humility, honesty, contentment or purity, truth, self-restraint, austerities, charity, celibacy, and non-attachment.   

Sunday, September 8
‘Izzat – Bahá’í 
The beginning of the tenth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “might.”
Nativity of the Mother of God [Theotokos] or Birth of the Blessed Virgin – Christianity  
This festival celebrates the birth of Mary, the mother of Jesus of Nazareth.  In Eastern Orthodox churches she is known by the honorific of Theotokos.

Monday, September 9
‘Āshūrā’ – Islam
Sunni Muslims celebrate this day as the anniversary of Noah’s departure from the Ark on Mount Ararat and the freedom of the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage.  Shi’a Muslims mark this date as the anniversary of the martyrdom of Husayn, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, in 680 C.E.

Thursday, September 12
Ghambar Paitishahem – Zoroastrianism [through Monday, September 16]
This festival celebrates the creation of the earth and the summer harvest.
Anant Chaturdashi – Jainism and Hinduism
For Hindus this day celebrates Anant, one form of Lord Vishnu. If a devout Hindu vows to honor Vishnu and keeps that vow for 14 years, it is believed that she or he will see wealth. This is also the last day of Ganesh Utsav, a 10-day Hindu celebration. Statues of Lord Ganesha are carried to bodies of water to be submerged, accompanied by devotional songs and dancing.  Jains celebrate this day with special worship services and processions to the community’s main temple. 
Ethiopian New Year – Rastafari
A sacred day for Rastafarians because they consider Ethiopia to be their spiritual homeland, to which they aspire to return.

Saturday, September 14
Elevation or Exultation of the Holy Cross – Christianity
This day recognizes the Cross as a symbol of Christ’s love for humankind and God’s victory over death.  It also marks the finding of the Holy Cross by St. Helen after it had been stolen in the 7th century C.E.  Orthodox churches begin their commemoration at sundown on the preceding day. In the Ethiopian Orthodox tradition, this day is known as Meskel and is marked on September 27th.
Pitr-paksha or Mahalay Paksha – Hinduism  
The beginning of a two-week period during which Hindu adherents perform shraddha rites to gratify the spirits of their deceased ancestors, including giving food or other donations as a form of charitable service.

Sunday, September 15
Ksamavani – Jainism
A day of universal forgiveness, in which Jains ask forgiveness of others for wrongs committed during the previous year, and they also forgive those who have caused them suffering.

Monday, September 23   autumn equinox
Shuki-sorei-sai – Shinto
A memorial service similar to the March equinox service (Shunki-sorei-sai), this day is marked by the cleaning and purification of gravesites and the reverence of ancestors as kami, or divine spirits.
Ohigon – Buddhism
A celebration of the equinox that is of particular importance to Japanese, Korean, and Tibetan Buddhists.  During this festival, the six Paramitas [virtues] are emphasized: generosity, morality, wisdom, honesty, endeavor, and patience. 
Autumn Feast – Native American spirituality
A day to honor the harvest end and the coming and going of the seasons, including prayers, songs, and the telling of tribal stories. 
Mabon [Harvest Home] – Wicca
Marking the second or continuing harvest, this festival celebrates life’s encapsulation as a seed to survive the cold winter, as well as the Harvest of the Vine, which symbolizes the divine power to transform the nectar of youth into the wine of elders’ wisdom and spiritual maturity.

Thursday, September 27
Mashí’yyat – Bahá’í 
The beginning of the eleventh month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “will.”

Saturday, September 28
Birth of Confucius – Confucianism
The birthday of the philosopher Confucius [K’ung-tzu] in 551 B.C.E. in the Chinese state of Lu, known today as Shandong Province.

Sunday, September 29
Rosh Hashanah begins – Judaism
Beginning at sundown is New Year’s Day for the year 5780 and the anniversary of the creation of the world.  Jews celebrate Rosh Hashanah with the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn) and apples and honey, marking it as the first of the Ten Days of Awe [or Repentance].  
St. Michael and All Angels – Christianity
A celebration of the archangel Michael and all angels (from the Greek angelos, “divine messenger”) mentioned in the Bible.
Navaratra or Navaratri Dusserha – Hinduism  
The beginning of a nine-day festival of the divine mother, honoring Shiva’s wife Durga and seeking her blessings.  It is also observed as a celebration recalling the days of Lord Krishna.  Fasting and prayer are practiced.

Thank you

Thank you to ACPE Certified Educator Rev. Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark at UCSF Medical Center Spiritual Care Services, San Francisco, CA, for compiling this list each month. Email him for more information.  

Also our thanks to the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, the Multifaith Action Society of British Columbia (Canada), BBC’s Religion Website, Peel Schools District Board (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada), the Arizona State University Provost’s Office, the NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad, the Anti-Defamation League, Project Interfaith (Omaha, NE), the University of Victoria Faculty of Law (British Columbia, Canada), and

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