Religious Holy Days

September 2018
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.

Saturday, 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 3
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.

Thursday, September 6
Paryushana-parva begins [until Thursday, September 13] – 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 (Thursday, September 13) 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.  

Saturday, 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.

Sunday, September 9
Rosh Hashanah begins – Judaism
Beginning at sundown is New Year’s Day for the year 5779 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].  

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, September 10
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 1440 begins at sundown.

Tuesday, September 11
Ethiopian New Year – Rastafari
A sacred day for Rastafarians because they consider Ethiopia to be their spiritual homeland, to which they aspire to return.

Wednesday, September 12
Ghambar Paitishahem – Zoroastrianism [through Sunday, September 16]
This festival celebrates the creation of the earth and the summer harvest.

Thursday, September 13
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.

Friday, 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.

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.   

Saturday, September 15
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. 

Tuesday, September 18
Yom Kippur [Day of Atonement] – Judaism
The holiest day of the Jewish year.  To reestablish their relationship with God, Jews ask for forgiveness and forgive others [Kol Nidre], and then they can confess their sins and ask for divine forgiveness.  Prayer and fasting begin at sundown on this day and continue through the following day. 

Friday, September 21
‘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.

Saturday, September 22   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.

Sunday, September 23
Sukkot [Festival of Tabernacles] begins – Judaism
Also known as the Festival of Booths and the Harvest Festival, Jews celebrate this time as a pilgrimage feast and time of thanksgiving.  The booths or huts remind Jews of the tents used by the Israelites during their years wandering in the wilderness, as well as the dwellings used by Jewish farmers at harvest time.    

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.

Tuesday, September 25
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.

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

Friday, 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.

Saturday, September 29
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.

Sunday, September 30
Shemini Atzeret [Eighth Day of Assembly] – Judaism
This eighth day of Sukkot [Festival of Tabernacles] features prayers for rain and a good harvest in the coming year.  It begins at sundown.

October 2018

Observing LGBT History Month

For Native Americans, October marks the season of the Cherokee Green Corn Ceremony and the season of Xlaaw, the season to put up food for the coming winter.

Monday, October 1
Simchat Torah – Judaism
This festival, also known as “Rejoicing with the Law,” marks the end of Sukkot and the completion of the Torah reading cycle with the beginning of reading the first book again.  Jews celebrate this day by singing, dancing, and marching around the synagogue or temple with Torah scrolls.  This festival begins at sundown.

Tuesday, October 2
Jashan-e Mehregan – Zoroastrianism
A celebratory festival of friendship, righteousness and justice.

Thursday, October 4
Feast Day of Saint Francis of Assisi – Christianity
A celebration of the patron saint of animals and ecology and the founder of the Franciscan Roman Catholic religious order, known for its ethic of simplicity and service.  Many Christians mark this festival by bringing their animal companions to churches for a blessing.

Friday, October 5
Bodhidharma Memorial – Buddhism 
This day celebrates the monk (5th – 6th centuries C.E.) who emigrated from India and is credited with transmitting Ch’an [Zen] Buddhism to China.  

Saturday, October 6
Worldwide General Conference begins – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

This is the largest worship service for Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons) and lasts for two days. Conference proceedings are broadcast live over the Internet and through other electronic media. 

Sunday, October 7
World Communion Sunday – Christianity

Tuesday, October 9
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.

Friday, October 12 
Ghambar Ayathrem – Zoroastrianism [through Tuesday, October 16]
This festival celebrates the creation of plants, the sowing of winter crops, and herds’ return from pasture.  

Saturday, October 13
Nichiren Shonin Memorial – Buddhism 
This day celebrates the monk (1222 – 1282 C.E.) who encouraged his followers to devote themselves to the Lotus Sūtra as the exclusive means to enlightenment.

Tuesday, October 16
‘Ilm – Bahá’í 
The beginning of the twelfth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “knowledge.”

Wednesday, October 17
Birth of Gurū Ram Das – Sikhism
This date in the Nanakshahi tradition celebrates the birth of the 4th Sikh gurū (1534 – 1581 C.E.), who is remembered for organizing the structure of Sikh society and for composing a four-stanza hymn that is the basis of many Sikh wedding ceremonies.

Friday, October 19
Dashara, Vijaya Dashami, or Dussehra – Hinduism
Celebrates the triumph of Durga, the Divine Mother who manifests fierce compassion, over the forces of evil, as well as commemorating Rama’s victory over the demon Ravana.

Saturday, October 20
Installation of the Gurū Granth Sahib – Sikhism
This date in the Nanakshahi tradition celebrates the transmission of the gurūship to the Holy Scriptures (the Gurū Granth Sahib Ji) by the tenth gurū, Gobind Singh Ji.   

Wednesday, October 24
United Nations Day
Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Gurū Tegh Bahadur Ji – Sikhism
This day commemorates the martyrdom of the ninth of the Ten Sikh Gurūs (1621-1675 C.E.).  He is remembered for defending the Sikh faith, as well as the rights of Hindus and the cause of religious liberty.   
Pavarana – Buddhism 
This day is the end of the three-month Vassa or rains retreat observed by Theravadin Buddhist monks.

Saturday, October 27
Karwa Chauth – Hinduism
A day of fasting for married women, in which they dress like new brides and offer prayers for the long lives and safety of their husbands.  Husbands offer sweets to their spouses at the end of the fast, once the moon is sighted.

Sunday, October 28
Atmasiddhi Rachna Divas (Creation Day) – Jainism 
On this day Jains celebrate that, in 1896, the poet Shrimad Rajchandra-ji (who was a spiritual guide for Mohandas Gandhi) wrote the legendary treatise Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra, which explains the quintessence of Jainism. 

Wednesday, October 31  Halloween
Reformation Day – Christianity [Protestant churches]
This day commemorates October 31, 1517 C.E., when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, eventually leading to the Protestant Reformation in Europe.  Most Protestant Christian churches will mark this on Sunday, October 28th. 
Samhain – Wicca
Celebration of the Celtic New Year.  The dying God returns to the womb of the Goddess in preparation for rebirth at Yule.  The souls of ancestors and those who have died during the turning of the past year’s wheel are remembered.  Vegan Wiccans harvest nuts, the kernels of which symbolize wisdom.   

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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