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Religious Holy Days
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.
Sunday, July 1
Jashn-e Tirgan – Zoroastrianism
The festival of water.
Tuesday, July 3
Ghambar Maidyoshem ends – Zoroastrianism
Ending the celebration of the creation of water, the sowing of summer crops, and the harvesting of grain.
Thursday, 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.).
Friday, July 6
Birthday of the XIVth Dalai Lama – Tibetan Buddhism
Celebrating the 83rd 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.
Tuesday, July 10
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.
Wednesday, July 11
Feast Day of St. Benedict – Catholic Christianity
Celebrating the life of St. Benedict of Nursia (480 – 547 C.E.), the founder of Western Christian monasticism whose Rule is still widely read and practiced even now.
Friday, July 13
Kalimát – Bahá’í
The beginning of the seventh month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “words.”
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.
Saturday, 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 21
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.
Sunday, 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.
Monday, July 23
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.
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.
Tuesday, 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.
Friday, July 27
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.
Saturday, July 28
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 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.
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.
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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Religious Holy Days