Celebrating Cultural and Religious Festivals

Happy Hanukkah – 21 December 2011
In Judaism Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 days to commemorate the regaining of the temple in Jerusalem around 168 BC from the Greeks. Needing to purify the temple after it had been dedicated to Zeus, the troops were determined to purify the Temple by burning ritual oil in the Temple’s menorah for eight days. But to their dismay, they discovered that there was only one day’s worth of oil left in the Temple. They lit the menorah anyway and to their surprise the small amount of oil lasted the full eight days.

Traditions include: Lighting the Hanukkiyah (to commemorate the miracle of the Hanukkah oil), Spinning the dreidel (a game using which is a four-sided top with Hebrew letters written on each side) and Eating fried foods: Because Hanukkah celebrates the miracle of oil.

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Celebrating Cultural and Religious Festivals

Islamic New Year – 7 December 2011
Muslims do not traditionally “celebrate” the beginning of a new year. Many Muslims use the day to remember the significance of this month, and the Hijra, or migration, Islamic prophet Muhammad made it to the city now known as Medina. Recently, in many areas of Muslim population, people have begun exchanging cards and gifts on this day, though this is not commonly done. For Shia Muslims, Muharram is the month grief and sorrow because they mourn the death of Imam Hussain and his companions on the day of Ashura.
Muslims measure the passage of time using the Islamic (Hijrah) calendar. This calendar has twelve lunar months, the beginnings and endings of which are determined by the sighting of the crescent moon. Years are counted since the Hijrah, which is when the Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Madinah (approximately July 622 A.D.).

Celebrating Cultural and Religious Festivals

Diwali – 26 of October 2011

Diwali is the Hindu festival of lights and is also a significant religious celebration for adherents of Sikhism and Jainism. The festival celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance. The name of the festival comes from a Sanskrit work meaning ‘row of lights’ and this is reflected in the tradition of decorating one’s home with brightly coloured lights throughout the week of the festival.

The legends associated with Diwali are numerous. Across many parts of India, the festival commemorates the homecoming of Rama after a 14-year exile in the forest and his victory over Ravana. In Sikhism, the story of Diwali is a narrative of the Sikh struggle for freedom since it celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru, Guru Hargobind, and 52 other princes with him in 1619.

Greeting – Shubh Diwali (Happy Diwali)

Celebrating Cultural and Religious Festivals

Happy Easter. – 24 April 2011

Easter Sunday is the most important date in the Christian calendar and commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Easter is preceded by Good Friday, which marks the day upon which Jesus was crucified. Christians believe that Jesus was the son of God, died and was resurrected as a sacrificial offering to God for mankind’s sins, allowing mankind to have a personal relationship with God although imperfect.
Easter is a joyful time for Christians where churches are filled with flowers and special hymns are sung and prayers recited. Easter also marks the end of Lent, 40 days of fasting, prayer and penance representing Jesus’s 40 day fast in the desert. In many Western countries, the festival is celebrated by the giving and eating of chocolate Easter eggs. The date changes each year since the festival is celebrated on the first Sunday following the vernal equinox.

Celebrating Cultural and Religious Festivals

Happy Holi – 19-20 March 2011

Holi is the festival that celebrates the arrival of spring and the energy and life associated with the season. It is also known as the ‘Festival of Colours’ since the rituals performed during the festival involve smearing each other with paint and throwing coloured dyes and powders around. Bonfires are also widely lit during the festival and mock battles take place between men and women in the streets. Traditionally, Holi celebrates Krishna and the legend of Holika and Prahalad.

Celebrating Cultural and Religious Festivals

Islamic New Year – 18 December 2010
Muslims do not traditionally “celebrate” the beginning of a new year. Many Muslims use the day to remember the significance of this month, and the Hijra, or migration, Islamic prophet Muhammad made it to the city now known as Medina. Recently, in many areas of Muslim population, people have begun exchanging cards and gifts on this day, though this is not commonly done. For Shia Muslims, Muharram is the month grief and sorrow because they mourn the death of Imam Hussain and his companions on the day of Ashura.
Muslims measure the passage of time using the Islamic (Hijrah) calendar. This calendar has twelve lunar months, the beginnings and endings of which are determined by the sighting of the crescent moon. Years are counted since the Hijrah, which is when the Prophet Muhammad migrated from Mecca to Madinah (approximately July 622 A.D.).

Celebrating Cultural and Religious Festivals

Happy Hanukkah – 2 December 2010
In Judaism Hanukkah is celebrated for 8 days to commemorate the regaining of the temple in Jerusalem around 168 BC from the Greeks. Needing to purify the temple after it had been dedicated to Zeus, the troops were determined to purify the Temple by burning ritual oil in the Temple’s menorah for eight days. But to their dismay, they discovered that there was only one day’s worth of oil left in the Temple. They lit the menorah anyway and to their surprise the small amount of oil lasted the full eight days.