Religious Holy Days

September 2019 

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.

Sunday, 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 2
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.

Tuesday, September 3
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.   

Sunday, 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.

Monday, September 9
‘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.

Thursday, September 12
Ghambar Paitishahem – Zoroastrianism [through Monday, September 16]
This festival celebrates the creation of the earth and the summer harvest.
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. 
Ethiopian New Year – Rastafari
A sacred day for Rastafarians because they consider Ethiopia to be their spiritual homeland, to which they aspire to return.

Saturday, 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.
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.

Sunday, September 15
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.

Monday, September 23   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.

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

Saturday, 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.

Sunday, September 29
Rosh Hashanah begins – Judaism
Beginning at sundown is New Year’s Day for the year 5780 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].  
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.

October 2019 

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.


Wednesday, October 2

  • Jashan-e Mehregan – Zoroastrianism

A celebratory festival of friendship, righteousness and justice.

Friday, 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.

Saturday, 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. 

  • 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 6

  • World Communion Sunday – Christianity

Tuesday, October 8

  • 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.

  • 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 12

  • Ghambar Ayathrem – Zoroastrianism [through Wednesday, October 16]

This festival celebrates the creation of plants, the sowing of winter crops, and herds’ return from pasture. 

Sunday, 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.  

  • 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.

Monday, October 21

  • 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.

Thursday, 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.  

Sunday, October 27

  • Diwali (Deepavali) – Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism

The festival of lights and Hinduism’s most popular festival.  It is dedicated to the Goddess Kali in Bengal and to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, in the rest of India.  Diwali is also associated with stories of the destruction of evil by the god Vishnu in one of his many forms, as well as with the coronation of Sri Rama.  Sweets and gifts are exchanged, and it is a time for cleaning and preparing for the future.  This festival is also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains, with this day bearing additional names and significance as shown immediately below.

  • Bandi Chhor Divas – Sikhism

Called “the day of the prisoner’s release,” this festival marks the return of the sixth gurū, Sri Hargobind Ji, and 52 other princes with him to the holy city of Amritsar after being released from detention in 1619 C.E.

  • Mahavira Nirvana – Jainism

On this day Jains celebrate that the soul of Lord Mahavir (6th century B.C.E.), the 24th Tirthankara, attained nirvana and release from the cycle of rebirth [moksha].

Monday, 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.

Tuesday, October 29

  • Birth of the Báb — Bahá’í

Anniversary of the birth of the Báb, one of the twin Prophet founders of the Bahá’í faith, in 1819 C.E.  His nineteen disciples, known as Letters of the Living, taught his religion throughout 19th century Persia.  His shrine is located in Haifa, Israel.  Bahá’ís suspend work on this day.

Wednesday, October 30

  • Birth of the Bahá’u’lláh — Bahá’í

Anniversary of the birth of the Bahá’u’lláh (“Glory of God”), the founder of the Bahá’í faith, in Tehran, Persia [modern-day Iran], in 1817 C.E.  Devout followers suspend work on this day; some begin their observance of the day on the previous day’s sundown.

Thursday, 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 27th.

  • 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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