Religious Holy Days



April 2017 

April marks the season of Mmaal, which is when the rivers open, and of the Eagle Dances, when people of the Arizona Pueblo tribes dance to dramatize their communities’ relationship with the Sky-World.

Wednesday, April 5
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.   
Qingming  – Chinese traditional
Often called Tomb Sweeping Day, it is a day to honor one’s ancestors and visit their grave sites, as well as to welcome the coming of the spring season.

Thursday, April 6 

Anniversary of the Church’s Founding – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Saturday, April 8

Lazarus Saturday – Christianity (Eastern churches)
A commemoration of Jesus’ miracle of raising his friend Lazarus from the dead, celebrated on the eve before Palm Sunday.
Jalál – Bahá’í
The beginning of the second month in the Bahá’í calendar, “Jalál” means “glory.”

Sunday, April 9
Palm Sunday – Christianity (Western and Eastern churches)
The remembrance of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, when crowds spread palm fronds on the ground as Jesus rode into the city.  Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.
Mahavira-jayanti  – Jainism
Celebrating the birthday of Lord Mahavir (Great Hero), the 24th Tirthankara (and last of this time cycle).  Jains remember their most important prophet by decorating their temples with flags, with prayers and fasting, and by making offerings of rice, fruit, milk, and other items.
Shrimad Rajchandra Dehvilay – Jainism
This festival marks the day of the emancipation (death) of Shrimad Rajchandra, a prominent Jain philosopher, in 1901 C.E.  He was an influential spiritual guide for Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi.

Monday, April 10

Eve of Pesach [Passover] – Judaism (ends on April 18)
The beginning of an eight-day festival celebrating God’s deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.  The story is told during a Seder meal at sundown, including readings from a book known as the Haggadah.  Some Jews refrain from work on the first two and the last two days of this holiday.

 
Tuesday, April 11
Theravadin New Year  – Buddhism
The New Year festival for Theravadin Buddhists, celebrated for three days beginning on the first full moon day in April.
Hanuman Jayanti – Hinduism
A celebration of the birth of Hanuman, the faithful servant of the god Rama who can assume any form in order to conquer evil.  Believers visit temples and apply sindoor (red powder) to their foreheads, since Hanuman is often portrayed as a red half-monkey, half-human.

Thursday, April 13

Maundy Thursday [Holy Thursday] – Christianity (Western churches)
The remembrance of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples and his institution of the “love commandment” (the term “Maundy” comes from the Latin word for “commandment”) while he washed their feet as a servant.   
Eve of Great and Holy Friday – Christianity (Eastern churches)
At sundown Eastern churches commemorate Jesus’ death by crucifixion, followed by an observance of the Great Sabbath, in which believers remember Christ’s burial and await his resurrection on Holy Pascha, or Easter morning.

Friday, April 14
Good Friday or Great and Holy Friday – Christianity (Western and Eastern churches)
A commemoration of the passion of Jesus of Nazareth, i.e., his death by crucifixion. At sundown some churches begin the Easter vigil either this evening or on Holy Saturday (April 15).
Vaisakhi  – Hinduism
The first day of the solar year and an important harvest festival in northern India.
Vaisakhi [or Baisakhi] – Sikhism
On this date in 1699 C.E., Gurū Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, created the Khalsa Panth, the Brotherhood of the Pure.  Khalsa brothers are given the name Singh (lion), and sisters are named Kaur (princess).

Sunday, April 16

Easter Sunday or Holy Pascha – Christianity (Western and Eastern churches)
Celebrating God’s raising of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead, this day is the oldest and most central festival in the Christian year and initiates the fifty-day period culminating in Pentecost.   
Yaqui Deer Dance – Native American spirituality
A ceremony that integrates ancient rites of the Yaqui people of Arizona with the Christian Easter rituals.

Tuesday, April 18
Birthdays of Gurū Angad Dev and of Gurū Tegh Bahadur – Sikhism
Gurū Angad Dev (1504 – 1552 C.E.) was the second and Gurū Tegh Bahadur (1621 – 1675 C.E.) was the ninth of the Sikh Gurūs.

Wednesday, April 19
Eve of Ridván – Bahá’í  (continues through Monday, May 1)
Commemorating the twelve days that Bahá’u’lláh spent in the garden of Ridván during his exile in Baghdad and when he proclaimed himself as the one announced by the Báb, which occurred in 1863 C.E.  On the first (4/20), ninth (4/28), and twelfth days (5/1) of this festival, work is suspended.  The festival begins at sundown.
 
Saturday, April 22
Laylat al-Isra’ wa al-Mi’rāj – Islam  
The commemoration of the Prophet Muhammad’s night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, his ascent into heaven and return on the same night, and his receipt of Allah’s commandment of the five compulsory daily prayers.  This celebration begins at dusk.

Monday, April 24
Yom Ha-Shoah (Holocaust Day) – Judaism
A day of remembrance for the six million Jews who died because of Nazi atrocities during World War II.  The date chosen is the closest date on the Jewish calendar to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943.

Thursday, April 27
Jamál – Bahá’í
The beginning of the third month in the Bahá’í calendar, “Jamál” means “beauty.”

Friday, April 28
Akshaya-tritiya [Immortal Third] – Jainism
A day celebrating when Lord Adinatha or Rishabhadeva, the traditional founder of the Jain faith and the first tīrthankar (a being who helps others to cross the great ocean of worldly life and achieve liberation), broke his first year-long fast by drinking juice from a sugar cane.

Sunday, April 30 
Ghambar Maidyozarem begins – Zoroastrianism (continues through Thursday, May 4)
Celebrating the creation of sky and the harvesting of the winter crops.


May 2017

May and June mark the season of the Hopi Kachina Dances, in which Arizona Hopi celebrants represent various spirit-powers and perform ritual dances in open pueblo areas.  It is also the time of Yansa’altt, the season of berry blossoms—anticipating the berry harvest in summer, which is essential for survival in winter.

Monday, May 1  

Beltane [also called Beltain or May Day] – Wicca
Celebration of the sacred marriage of the divine forces—and the conception of the sun-child—that are the basis of all creation.
Twelfth Day of Ridván – Bahá’í 
The conclusion of the Bahá’í festival that commemorates Bahá’u’lláh’s exile in Baghdad leading up to his declaration as the one announced by the Báb in 1863 C.E.

Tuesday, May 2
Birthday of Gurū Arjan Dev – Sikhism
Gurū Arjan Dev (1563 – 1606 C.E.) was the fifth of the Sikh Gurūs.

Thursday, May 4
Ghambar Maidyozarem ends  – Zoroastrianism
The end of the celebration of the creation of the sky and the harvesting of the winter crops.
National Day of Prayer – Multi-faith, USA

Tuesday, May 9
Laylat al-Bara’at or Nisf Sha‘bān – Islam
According to Muslim tradition, Allah approaches the earth on this night (the middle day of the eighth month in the Islamic calendar) to call humanity to repentance and grant forgiveness of sins. 

Wednesday, May 10
Visakha Puja [Buddha Day] – Buddhism 
Celebrated by Theravdin Buddhists on the full moon of the sixth lunar month, this is a triple commemoration of the historical Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death and entrance into nirvana.

Sunday, May 14
Lag B’Omer –  Judaism
The 33rd day in the counting of the period between Pesach [Passover] and Shavuot [the giving of the Law]; the festival begins at sundown.

Monday, May 15
Restoration of the Aaronic priesthood – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Marking the restoration of this order by John the Baptist and conferred upon the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery on this date in 1829 C.E

Tuesday, May 16
‘Azamat – Bahá’í
The beginning of the fourth month of the Bahá’í year, ‘Azamat means “grandeur.”
 

Tuesday, May 23
Declaration of the Báb – Bahá’í
The celebration of the day in 1844 C.E. when he announced his identity as the Gate or herald of the new age in Shiraz, Persia (modern-day Iran).
Birthday of Gurū Amar Das – Sikhism
Gurū Amar Das (1479 – 1574 C.E.) was the third of the Sikh Gurūs.

Thursday, May 25
Ascension Day – Christianity (Western and Eastern churches)
The anniversary of Jesus’ ascension into heaven, celebrated forty days after Easter.  In the Roman Catholic Church, this day is celebrated on Sunday, May 28th.    

Friday, May 26
Ramadān begins – Islam
A holy month of fasting and prayer, in which all adult and physically competent Muslims abstain from food, water, and sexual relations from dawn to sunset.  Ramadān ends on June 24th. 

Sunday, May 28   
Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh – Bahá’í
The anniversary of the death of the founder of the Bahá’í faith in Palestine in 1892 C.E.  Adherents suspend work on this day.

Monday, May 29  Memorial Day
 
Tuesday, May 30
Shavuot [Feast of Weeks] – Judaism
A two-day festival, beginning at sundown, that celebrates the harvest of first fruits and the giving of the Law (or Torah) to Moses at Mt. Sinai.  The name Shavuot derives from the Hebrew words for “seven” and “week,” because it marks seven weeks following Pesach or Passover.



Thank you

Thank you to ACPE Supervisor 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 www.interfaithcalendar.org

To subscribe to this calendar and sync it with your Google, Outlook, or iCal calendars, visit ucsfspiritcare.org and select the “Resources” menu.