March and April mark the season of the Eagle Dances, when people of the Arizona Pueblo tribes dance to dramatize their communities’ relationship with the Sky-World. This month is also known as Xsaak, the season when candlefish swarm and members of the Nisga’a tribes catch these fish, dry them, and render them into oil for lamps.
Saturday, March 2
• ‘Alá – Bahá’í
The beginning of the nineteenth and final month, meaning “loftiness,” and also of a 19-day fast in preparation for Naw Rúz [see March 21]. Adult believers in good health abstain from food and drink from dawn to dusk.
Tuesday, March 5
• Maha Shivaratri – Hinduism
A night devoted to the worship of the god Shiva, whose cosmic dance creates, preserves, destroys, and recreates the world. Believers recite texts, sing, make offerings, and tell stories while holding vigil and fasting.
Wednesday, March 6
• Ash Wednesday – Christianity (Western churches)
The beginning of Lent, a forty-day period (excluding Sundays) in which Christians pray, repent, fast and reflect on Jesus’ final journey to Jerusalem. It is a preparatory period for Holy Week and Easter; on this day, believers often receive an ashen cross on their foreheads to mark their repentance and mortality.
Friday, March 8
• Sri Ramakrishna Jayanti – Hinduism
A celebration of the birth of the teacher of Swami Vivekananda, who introduced Hinduism to the United States at the first Parliament of the World’s Religions in Chicago in 1893.
Sunday, March 10
• Cheesefare Sunday [Forgiveness Sunday] – Christianity (Eastern churches)
This feast marks the last day of eating dairy products prior to Holy Pascha (also known as Easter). The Great Fast or Great Lent begins at sundown and is marked by forty days of vegetarian fasting, intense prayer, and almsgiving in preparation for Holy Week. The following day is known as Clean Monday.
Thursday, March 14
• Memorial of Shan-tao (Zendō) – Buddhism
Anniversary of the death of a Chinese Pure Land Buddhist priest who died in 681 C.E. He taught that enlightenment could occur simply through repetition of the name of Amitabha or Amida Buddha (nianfo or nembutsu), and is honored as the Fifth Patriarch of that Buddhist school.
Saturday, March 16
• Ghambar Hamaspathmaedem, Fravardegan, or Muktad – Zoroastrianism
(continues until March 20)
A celebration of the creation of human beings and a commemoration of souls who have died. Prayers are offered to the fravashis (the divine spark within each human, which lives forever), asking for their blessings and protection.
Sunday, March 17
• Saint Patrick’s Day – Christianity (Western churches)
A commemoration of the missionary bishop who evangelized Ireland in the fifth century C.E.
• Orthodox Sunday – Christianity (Eastern churches)
A celebration of the restoration of icons, which had been banned from Byzantine churches in the seventh century. The Christian empress Theodora ordered them restored in 843 C.E.
Wednesday, March 20 spring equinox
• Eve of Purim – Judaism
A celebration of the Jews’ rescue from an evil plot to destroy them while they were living in Persia, the events of which are recorded in the Hebrew biblical book of Esther. The holiday includes reading the Megillah (the scroll of Esther), exchanging gifts, and special pastries called hamantashen.
• Spring Ohigon – Buddhism
For Buddhists who practice in the Jōdo Shinshū [Japanese Pure Land] tradition, this is a special time to listen to the teaching of the Buddha and meditate on the perfection of enlightenment as lived in the Six Perfections or Paramitas (generosity, morality, wisdom, honesty, endeavor, and patience).
• Shunki-sorei-sai – Shintō
The time of the spring memorial service, when ancestors’ spirits are revered at home altars and gravesites are cleaned and purified.
• Ostara – Wicca
A time to mark the divine goddess’s blanketing of the Earth with fertility as the god stretches and grows to maturity, manifested in the reawakening of seeds within the Earth as they are touched by divine love.
• Spring Feast – Native American spirituality
A day to mark the coming and going of seasons and to honor planting through songs, stories, and prayer.
Thursday, March 21
• Magha Puja Day [Dharma Day] – Buddhism
In the Theravada Buddhist tradition, this full moon day of the third lunar month marks the historical Buddha’s sermon at Veruvana Monastery in the city of Rajagaha, where he spoke to 1250 en-lightened monks who were ordained by him.
• Holi – Hinduism
This festival is one of Hinduism’s most popular celebrations. People throw colored powder or spray colored water to celebrate episodes in the life of the god Krishna, and to symbolize unity and common humanity (since everyone looks the same when coated in colors).
• Naw Rúz – Bahá’í
Marking the beginning of the year 176 of the Bahá’í era, and the beginning of the first month of the year, known as Bahá or “splendor.”
• Navruz [Now Ruz or Norooz] – Zoroastrianism
The beginning of the Zoroastrian new year, 1389 AY or 3757 AZ in the Fasli seasonal calendar, which also celebrates the renewal of the world and the creation of fire (which symbolizes righteousness). Zarathustra, the founder of Zoroastrianism, received his revelation on this day.
Friday, March 22
• Hola Mohallah – Sikhism
A three-day festival instituted by the tenth Sikh gurū, Gobind Singh, as a time for military pre-paredness exercises, Hola Mohallah now is celebrated with mock battles, music competitions, and festivities.
Monday, March 25
• Feast of the Annunciation – Christianity (Western and Eastern churches)
This festival marks the visit of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary of Nazareth and Mary’s faithful response to God’s plan by consenting to be Jesus’ mother.
Tuesday, March 26
• Ramanavami – Hinduism
A celebration in honor of the birth of Rama, the seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu. Hindus read the Ramayana, a Hindu epic, and religious dances called Ramalila are performed to depict scenes from his life. This is the culmination of a week-long observance.
• Khordad Sal – Zoroastrianism
The birth anniversary of the prophet Zarathustra.
Sunday, March 31
• Birthday of Avalokiteśvara or Kuan Yin [Kannon] – Buddhism
Usually celebrated on or near the full moon day in March, this day marks the occasion when the enlightened being known as Avalokiteśvara (in the Mahāyāna traditions of Tibet and China) or as Kuan Yin or Kannon (the feminine embodiment of this bodhisattva in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese Buddhism) vowed to attain final, supreme enlightenment and thereby save all suffering sentient beings.