Religious Holy Days


March 2017 

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.


Monday, March 13
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.

Hola Mohallah – Sikhism
A three-day festival instituted by the tenth Sikh gurū, Gobind Singh, as a time for military preparedness exercises, Hola Mohallah now is celebrated with mock battles, music competitions, and festivities. 

Tuesday, March 14   
New Year’s Day – Sikhism 
In the Nanakshahi calendar, this day is the beginning of the year 549.

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.

Thursday, March 16

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.   

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.

Friday, March 17
Saint Patrick’s Day – Western Christianity
A commemoration of the missionary bishop who evangelized Ireland in the fifth century C.E.

Monday, March 20  spring equinox 
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.

Naw Rúz – Bahá’í
Marking the beginning of the year 174 of the Bahá’í era, and the beginning of the first month of the year, known as Bahá or “splendor.”

Tuesday, March 21
Navruz [Now Ruz or Norooz] – Zoroastrianism
The beginning of the Zoroastrian new year, 1387 AY or 3755 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.

Saturday, March 25
Feast of the Annunciation – Christianity  
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.   

Sunday, March 26
Khordad Sal – Zoroastrianism
The birth anniversary of the prophet Zarathustra.

Tuesday, March 28
Ugadi or Yugādi – Hinduism
The New Year’s Day celebration for Hindus of the Deccan Plateau in central and southern India, which traditionally includes a ritual bath, prayers, and the eating of pachhadi: six flavors that represent six different life experiences.  The flavors are bitter, tang, sour, spicy, salty, and sweet, which symbolize sadness, surprise, disgust, anger, fear, and happiness.



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.


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.