Various religious festivals are held around the globe each year to celebrate and commemorate days regarded highly special to respective religions, ranging from cultural festivals, religious holy days, and birthdates of great leaders and faith founders . The celebrations have themes in common: gatherings and unions with family and friends, lights and goodwill, food and drinks, gift-giving, prayers,respect and understanding. Do Good believes that peace and unity in the world will only be achieved with mutual understanding and respect of all cultures and faiths.
As our Muslim followers will be celebrating Eid-Fitr on the coming June 5th, Do Good is featuring some religious festivals so we can learn about other religions too. Here are some of the religious festivals celebrated around the world (source: peaceinternational.org)
This Hindu harvest festival is celebrated mostly in South India in the state of Tamil Nadu. The festival has different names depending on the region where it is celebrated. For four days, people throw away old clothes, boil rice with fresh milk topped with brown sugar, cashew nuts and raisins, participate in taming a wild bull contest, and visit beaches and theme parks.
Lunar New Year
This cultural and religious celebration is celebrated by Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese families. Traditions and customs of this festival include cleaning homes, making amends with family and friends, lighting firecrackers and preparing a family feast. Married couples give children red envelopes called lai si, also known as ‘lucky money’ for them to buy new clothes or new shoes.
This Buddhist New Year festival is celebrated for two weeks when people paint their homes and hang strings of colourful prayer flags called ‘Losar buntings,’ which depict a prayer or a wish. Families also wear new clothes and resolve quarrels and debts.
Baisakhi / Vaisakhi
This New Year is celebrated by Sikhs and Hindus who bring flowers and offerings to their place of worship before dawn. For Hindus, it is the start of the harvest season. Families participate in a fair, eat delicious sweets and fruits, and take a ritual bath of renewal.
Many Christians celebrate this day as a reminder both of Jesus’ resurrection and their commitment to living a life of truth, justice and love. Some Christian families attend midnight mass and candlelight vigil, sing hymns in praise of their God, and gather together for dinner.
Wesak / Wesah / Visakha Puja
This celebration is the most important religious holiday for Buddhists in Asia. Traditions and customs include distributing gifts in cash and kind to various charities, decorating and illuminating temples, and painting and creating beautiful scenes from Buddha’s life. Buddhist families also prepare vegetarian dishes and light candles and lanterns.
New Year / Nayrouz
The Coptis celebrate their New Year by preparing a parade of martyrs and a special feast for family, friends, and community. They wear new clothes, sing hymns, and go to church.
Millions of tiny flames light up India during this festival of lights. The festival honors Lakshmi, India’s goddess of prosperity. Small clay saucers filled with oil and a cotton wick are placed near houses and along roads at night. To celebrate the Hindu holiday of Diwali, farmers dress up their cows with decorations and treat them with respect. The farmers show their thanks to the cows for helping the farmers earn a living.
On Easter, Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. People attend churches and also enjoy different Easter customs. In Germany, people make “egg trees” that are decorated like Christmas trees. In Hungary, boys sprinkle girls with perfumed water — and in return, girls prepare a holiday dinner for them.
For eight days each November or December, Jews light candles in a special candle-holder called menorah. They do this to commemorate an ancient miracle in which one day’s worth of oil burned for eight days in their temple. On Hanukkah, many Jews also eat special potato pancakes called latkes, sing songs, and spin a top called a dreidel to win chocolate coins, nuts, or raisins.
Japanese people keep the memory of their ancestors alive with a festival held during the summer called Obon. People put lit candles in lanterns and float them on rivers and seas. They also visit and clean the graves of those who have died. In the ancient city of Kyoto, people light giant bonfires. A Dancing Reunion is held to guide the souls of dead family members back home.
St. Lucia Day
To honor this third-century saint on December 13, many girls in Sweden dress up as “Lucia brides” in long white gowns with red sashes, and a wreath of burning candles on their heads. They wake up their families by singing songs and bringing them coffee and twisted saffron buns called “Lucia cats.”
Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus on December 25 known as Christmas Day. Traditions and customs include the displaying of the Nativity scenes, decorating the Christmas tree, exchanging gifts and cards, and spending time with family and friends. It is a time for family, joy, giving and peace.
This festival marks the end of Ramadan, the fasting month. The morning after the final fasting day of the month, mostly men and boys attend Eid prayers at the mosques. As in Ramadan, food is also shared with the needy so that there is feasting at all levels of the community. Families visit relatives and friends in a spirit of mutual forgiveness, harmony and unity, and wish them joy and happiness.
This religious festival is celebrated by Muslims worldwide as a commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim’s willingness to sacrifice his son for God, for which God provided him a sheep to sacrifice instead. Muslims who can afford it sacrifice domestic animals such as sheep, cows, goats and camels as a symbolic commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim’s faith and obedience to God. The meat is shared among families, and a large portion of it is given to the less fortunate.
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