And with it a multiplicity of religious festivals. A ‘delicious rare confluence of springtime cultural festivals’ as someone wrote (I-news 17 Apr22). The Interfaith Network www.interfaith.org.uk have a really useful list of festivals over the year (under resources)
And a good place to start is Now Roz, Persian new year of 21 March, also known as the Spring Equinox.
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan (2 April to 1 May), when the prophet of Islam received his first revelation that became the Quran, with fasting during the day and breaking fast at dusk with Iftar meals. This is followed by celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr.
The Chinese festival of Chi’ing Ming (5th) when ancestors’ graves are visited.
Hanamatsuri (8th) the Japanese Mahayana flower festival to celebrate Buddha Shakyamuni’s birthday. And Songkran (15th) Thai Buddhist festival, throwing water to symbolise washing away of evil.
Hindu birthday of Rama Navani, the seventh avatar of Vishnu (10th) & Hanuman Jayanti (16/17th), celebrating the monkey-headed devotee of Lord Rama.
The Sikh festival of Vaisakhi (13th) remembering the founding of the order of Khalsa by Gobind Singh.
The Jain festival of Mahavir Jayanti (14th) birthday of the last Tirthankara, or great teacher.
Pesach or Passover (16th-23rd), the Jewish celebration of their exodus from slavery in Egypt, with a Sedar meal.
And I have joined in celebrating the Christian Holy Week - from Palm Sunday (10th), and Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem on a donkey, to his crucifixion on Good Friday (15th) and resurrection on Easter Sunday (17th). This is according to the Western Christian calendar. A week later the Orthodox celebrate Easter Pascha on 24th
The Baha’is festival of Ridvan over 12 days (21st to 2nd May), remembering when Baha’u’llah named himself as the Promised One.
On 21st Adar Mah Parab, Zoroastrians/Parsis celebrate the birth of fire.
The 30th is the Celtic Pagan festival of Beltane, as Spring yields to Summer, celebrated with maypole dancing on May Day.
This ‘melting pot’ of festivals is part of the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious society that is contemporary Britain. To be enjoyed and celebrated.
As a Christian engaged in interfaith dialogue, I believe we should be ‘deeply rooted’ in our own faith and ‘profoundly open’ to the other. And we start by listening to real people describe their own beliefs in their own words. Also by joining in these various human celebrations of joy - “Rejoice with those who rejoice…” (Rom 12:15)
Rev Philip Simpson, member of the Christian faith
Date: Tuesday 26th April 2022