Religious Holy Days


July 2017


For Native Americans, July marks the season of the Mountain Spirit Dances for the Mescalero Apache people of New Mexico; the Hopi Snake Dances, marking a sixteen-day ritual of purification; the Green Corn Ceremony or Stomp Dance, performed by Seminole and other Oklahoma tribes as a time of renewal and purification; and the Sun Dance, observed by Plains peoples (Arapaho, Cheyenne, Shoshone, Arikara, Crow, Sioux, and others) as a time of penitence and sacrifice.  It is also known as Xmaay, the season of big berries when summer fruit is ripe for harvesting.

Saturday, July 1
Jashn-e Tirgan – Zoroastrianism
The festival of water.

Monday, July 3
Ghambar Maidyoshem ends – Zoroastrianism
Ending the celebration of the creation of water, the sowing of summer crops, and the harvesting of grain.  

Tuesday, July 4
Chaturmas – Hinduism and Jainism
This day marks the beginning of a four-month period (ending in November) during which time devotees observe some form of vow.  Penance, fasting, and other religious observances mark this period.  It is considered an inauspicious time for weddings or thread ceremonies.

Wednesday, July 5
Birthday of Gurū Hargobind Sahib Ji – Sikhism
Celebrating a renowned martial artist who was named the 6th of the 11 Sikh Gurūs (1595 – 1644 C.E.).

Thursday, July 6
Birthday of the XIVth Dalai Lama – Tibetan Buddhism
Celebrating the 82nd birthday of His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, born in 1935 C.E. in northeastern Tibet.  The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is the spiritual leader of the Tibetan government in exile and is revered as the fourteenth in a succession of manifestations of Avalokiteśvara, the enlightened being (bodhisattva) who embodies compassion in Buddhist practice.

Saturday, July 8
Dharma Day (Asalha Puja Day) – Buddhism
This day commemorates the historical Buddha’s first sermon, called “Turning of the wheel of Dharma (Dhamma),” following his own enlightenment.  The following day marks the beginning of the three-month Vassa or “Rains Retreat” for Theravadin Buddhist monks and nuns.  This period is a time for training in Dharma studies, meditation practice, and giving religious services to the people.

Sunday, July 9
Martyrdom of the Báb – Bahá’í 
Anniversary of the martyrdom of the Báb, the forerunner of Báhá’u’lláh, in Persia in 1850 C.E.  The Báb and 20,000 of his followers were killed because of their religious convictions throughout the mid-1800’s.  Work is suspended on this day.
Gurū Purnima – Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism
This day celebrates the ancient Hindu sage Krishna Dvaipayana, also known as Veda Vyāsa, who is credited as the compiler of the sacred Vedas, the author of the Eighteen Puranas (supplementary texts), and credited with writing the Sanskrit epic Mahābhārata.  The term “gurū” refers to a teacher or remover of darkness.  Jains and Buddhists also mark this day as an opportunity to thank their teachers.

Wednesday, July 12
Kalimát – Bahá’í 
The beginning of the seventh month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “words.”

Thursday, July 13
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.   
Obon – Buddhism
A Japanese festival to honor deceased ancestors, usually involving the lighting of bonfires, traditional meals, paper lanterns, and folk dancing.  Locally this festival is celebrated at various times in July and August.
 
Friday, July 14
Feast Day of St. Kateri Tekakwitha – Catholic Christianity and Native American spirituality
Celebrating the life and ministry of Kateri Tekakwitha (1656 – April 17, 1680), a Mohawk-Algonquin woman who is the first Native American to be canonized by the Roman Catholic Church.  She was so recognized by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, over three hundred years after her death.

Saturday, July 22
Feast of St. Mary Magdalene – Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Anglican, and Lutheran Christian churches
Also known as the Penitent, Mary Magdalene is celebrated as one of Jesus’ earliest and most faithful disciples, after being healed by him.  She is also recognized as a witness to Jesus’ death and the first recorded witness of his resurrection on Easter.

Sunday, July 23 
Birthday of Emperor Haile Salassi I – Rastafari
Celebrating the birth of Ras [prince or chief] Tafari Makonnen (1892 – 1975 C.E.), who ruled as Emperor of Ethiopia from 1916 to 1974 (officially from 1930 to 1974), and who is professed by faithful Rasta believers as God incarnate.
Birthday of Gurū Har Krishan Sahib Ji – Sikhism
Marking the birth of the 8th and youngest of the 11 Sikh Gurūs (1656 – 1664 C.E.) in the Nanakshahi calendar.
Khordad Sal – Zoroastrianism
The birth anniversary of the prophet Zarathustra (Zoroaster), according to the Qadimi calendar.

Monday, July 24
Pioneer Day – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
Celebrated annually as the anniversary of the entry of LDS pioneers into the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, in Utah in 1847 C.E., after a historic trek across 1,300 miles of wilderness.

Sunday, July 30
Oharai-taisai – Shinto
A purification ceremony to cleanse believers from offenses committed during the first half of the year.  A large ring of woven grasses and reeds is placed at the entrance to Shinto shrines, and people walk through the ring as a symbol of inner purification.

Monday, July 31
Kamál – Bahá’í 
The beginning of the eighth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “perfection.”
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.

August 2017


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.

Tuesday, August 1
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.

Sunday, August 6 
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.   

Monday, August 7
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.

Tuesday, August 8
Fravardeghan Days [Muktad] begin –  Zoroastrianism
A time of memorializing one’s ancestors in preparation for Nowruz [see August 18], according to Zoroastrians who follow the Shenshai calendar.

Tuesday, 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.  
Dormition of the Theotokos or Most Holy Mother of God – Christianity [Orthodox 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.
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.

Friday, August 18
Nowruz – Zoroastrianism
The start of the New Year for Zoroastrians who follow the Shenshai calendar, beginning the year 1387 AY [After Yazdegird III, the last of the Persian Zoroastrian monarchs]. 

Saturday, August 19
Asmā’ – Bahá’í 
The beginning of the ninth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “names.”
Paryushana-parva begins [until Saturday, August 26] – Jainism
The holiest period of the year for the ascetic Shvetambara sect, this festival celebrates Jain ideals through fasting, worship, and reading the life-story of Lord Mahavira from the Kalpasutra.  Believers impose restraints on their daily activities by fasting, meditation, and prayer.  The last day of Paryushana is called Samvatsari (Saturday, August 26) 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.  

Tuesday, August 22
Khordad Sal – Zoroastrianism
The birth anniversary of the prophet Zarathustra (Zoroaster), according to the Shenshai calendar.
   
Thursday, August 24
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. 

Friday, August 25
Ganesh Chaturthi – Hinduism
A festival celebrating the birth of Ganesh, the god who removes obstacles and brings luck.

Saturday, August 26
Das Laxanä 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.

Thursday, August 31
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.   

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.