Religious Holy Days


April 2019

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.

Monday, April 1
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.

Friday, April 5
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.

Saturday, April 6 
Anniversary of the Church’s Founding – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
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.
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.

Monday, April 8
Hanamatsuri or Wesak – Buddhism
In the northern tradition, this is the anniversary of the birth of Śakyamuni Buddha, the historical founder of Buddhism.   In the southern tradition, this is celebrated during Visakha.

Tuesday, April 9
Jalál – Bahá’í
The beginning of the second month in the Bahá’í calendar, “Jalál” means “glory.”

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.

Sunday, April 14
Palm Sunday – Christianity (Western 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.

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).

Tuesday, April 16
Yaqui Deer Dance – Native American spirituality
A ceremony that integrates ancient rites of the Yaqui people of Arizona with the Christian Easter rituals.

Wednesday, April 17
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.

Thursday, April 18
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.   

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.

Friday, April 19
Good Friday – Christianity (Western 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 20).

Eve of Pesach [Passover] – Judaism (ends on April 27)
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.

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.
 
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.

Saturday, April 20
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.

Eve of Ridván – Bahá’í  (continues through Thursday, May 2)
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 (4/21), ninth (4/29), and twelfth days (5/2) of this festival, work is suspended.  The festival begins at sundown.

Sunday, April 21
Easter Sunday – Christianity (Western 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.   

Palm Sunday – Christianity (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.

Theravadin New Year – Buddhism
The New Year festival for Theravadin Buddhists, celebrated for three days beginning on the first full moon day in April.

Thursday, April 25
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.

Sunday, April 28
Holy Pascha – Christianity (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.   

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

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

May 2019

Celebrating Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

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.

Wednesday, 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.

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

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.
 
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.

Friday, May 3
National Day of Prayer – Multi-faith, USA

Saturday, May 4
Ghambar Maidyozarem ends  – Zoroastrianism
The end of the celebration of the creation of the sky and the harvesting of the winter crops.

Sunday, May 5
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 4th. 

Tuesday, May 7
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.

Wednesday, 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. 

Friday, May 17
‘Azamat – Bahá’í
The beginning of the fourth month of the Bahá’í year, ‘Azamat means “grandeur.”

Monday, May 20
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.

Thursday, May 23
Birthday of Gurū Amar Das – Sikhism
Gurū Amar Das (1479 – 1574 C.E.) was the third of the Sikh Gurūs.
 
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.

Friday, May 24
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).

Monday, May 27  Memorial Day
 
Wednesday, May 29
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.

Thursday, May 30
Ascension Day – Christianity (Western churches)
The anniversary of Jesus’ ascension into heaven, celebrated forty days after Easter.  In the Roman Catholic Church, this day is celebrated on Sunday, June 2nd. 
  
Laylat al-Qadr [Night of Power or Destiny] – Islam
A festival commemorating the first revelation of the Qur’ān to the Prophet Muhammad in 610 C.E., at the age of forty.  Often fixed as the 27th day of the Islamic month of Ramadān, Sunnis may also observe it on the 21st, 23rd, 25th or 29th. Shi’ites observe it on the 19th, 21st or 23rd of Ramadān. The festival begins at sundown.   

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 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.