Religious Festivals

Religious festivals are times of great importance to devotees of different faiths all around the world. Most commonly they are celebrated on a repeating cycle in one of several calendar years. There are hundreds of distinct religious festivals happening around the world every year, some for just one day and others for month-long periods and longer. Some of the most prominent religions in the world include Christianity, Islam, Hindu, Buddhism, and Judaism.

The Hajj & Ramadan

The Hajj & Ramadan
The Hajj & Ramadan

The Hajj and Ramadan are the most paramount religious festivals in Islam aside from Eid al Adha which marks the end of Ramadan. Hajj occurs at different times of the year. The Hajj is a pilgrimage that all physically and financially able Muslims are expected to make (at least once during the age of maturity) to the great city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Muslims pray at several sacred points when in Mecca. Ramadan is a period of fasting practiced by Muslims to purify their souls by cleansing their thoughts and actions.The timeframe of Ramadan is one month in August with the end marked by a large feast shared by families. Adherents pray to Allah during both festivals, reciting their religious text, called the Koran, and complete other such religious duties.

Kumbh Mela & Holi

Kumbh Mela & Holi
Kumbh Mela & Holi

Kumbh Mela is one of the most important religious festivals within the Hindu faith. It is hosted in one of four major Indian cities with the location determined by zodiacal signs. Millions of Hindus congregate at the Ganges River to bathe in the water which they believe purifies their souls. The festival welcomes some of the most celebrated religious figures including Sadhus, who are wandering, ascetic monks devoting their lives to reaching liberation, or “moksa.”  The Ganges is where Hindus unburden all their sins and seek out Nirvana from the unrelenting cycle of birth and rebirth again and again. The Holi Festival is celebrated all over India, with one of the most exciting in the city of Vrindavan. It marks the begining of the spring season, and is also called the "festival of colors" due to celebrants being doused with colored powder. 

Christmas & Easter

Christmas & Easter
Christmas & Easter

Christmas and Easter are the most widely celebrated religious festivals across the Christian world. Christmas is a holiday celebrating Jesus of Nazareth, said to have lived centuries ago as God incarnate. Christmas is celebrated annually on December 25th by the majority of Christians (in the New Year by Orthodox Christians). Feasts, prayers, gift-giving, decorating are major practices. Easter celebrates Jesus’ resurrection. It is a “moveable feast’ falling on a different day each year within the month of either March or April. Forty days prior to Easter is a period called Lent when Christians reflect and repent. The final part of the Easter season, called Eastertide, spans 50 days and involves a celebration of the ascension of Jesus into Heaven. Easter is also celebrated with grand feasts, painting eggs, and in more modern times, the commercial aspect of Easter baskets filled with chocolate and other small gifts.

Hannukah, Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur

Hannukah, Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur
Hannukah, Rosh Hashanah & Yom Kippur

High Holy Days, or Jewish High Holidays, comprise both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and also include the ten days from the start of Rosh Hashanah through to the very end of Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), leads the rest of the Holy High Days in autumn, and is commemorated on the first days of Tishrei with customs including feasting on symbolic foods and sounding of the shofar (horn). During Yom Kippur, Jews focus on purifying their souls through acts of prayer and fasting with a theme revolving around repentance and atonement. The Jewish holiday Hannukah is one of the Jewish religious festivals honored for eighth days and nights beginning on the 25th of Kislev, a Jewish month aligning with the last two months of the secular calendar.

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