By Lucy Kindred
The month of April was very significant to many people of a range of faiths. I will be talking about some of the religious events during this month.
Ramadan - 2nd April to 1st May
Ramadan is the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. The Islamic calendar is based around lunar cycles so the exact dates of Ramadan change every year. Ramadan marks the month that the prophet Muhammad recieved the first of the revelations that make up the Qur’an. During Ramadan, Muslims will fast which means that they won’t eat or drink during the hours of daylight. There are many reasons why Muslims fast: to seek forgiveness for past sins, learn self discipline, become spiritually stronger and empathise with the poor. During Ramadan, Muslims also attempt to break bad habits and make an effort to reach out to their communities. There is a special celebration at the end of Ramadan called Eid ul-Fitr which celebrates the end of a very intense month of fasting, prayer, self-reflection and charity. Muslims thank Allah for all His blessings and the strength He gave to them in the time of Ramadan. During Eid ul-Fitr, Muslims celebrate by meeting up with family and friends and rejoice with food and drink, give each other presents and dress up in new clothes.
Rama Navami - 10th April
Rama Navami is an important Hindu festival, celebrated annually on the ninth day of the first month in the Hindu lunar calendar. This festival celebrates the birth of Lord Rama. Lord Rama is the Seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. He is important because he killed the demon king Ravana and restored Dharma on the Earth. Hindus celebrate by reciting chants and prayers and offer a holy offering known as prasad. The celebration usually peaks close to the afternoon, near the time it is believed that Rama was born.
Vaisakhi / Baisakhi - 14th April
This festival celebrates the founding of the Sikh community, the Khalsa. It was originally a harvest festival until it became Sikhism's most important festival. Sikhs celebrate by going to the Gurdwara in the morning for a service and afterwards, they have a procession through the streets with lots of singing, chanting and colourful clothes.
Passover - 15th April to 23rd April
During Passover, Jews remember the story of Exodus which describes when Moses led all the Israelites out of Egypt. It is the oldest Jewish holiday and runs for 7-8 days. On the evening before Passover starts, Jews have a special service called a Seder at home with a meal. During the meal, the story of Exodus is told from a book called the Haggadah. Jews also sing songs and have a cushion to remind them of their freedom. Jews eat symbolic foods such as matzo, bitter herbs, lamb shank, fruit and alcoholic drinks such as rum and brandy can also be consumed. Pets also get special food.
Easter Sunday - 17th April
Easter is the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ in Christianity. The week leading up to Easter Sunday is called Holy Week. This begins the Sunday before Easter Sunday, Palm Sunday. Days in this week include Maundy Thursday which is the Thursday before Easter, observed in the Christian Church as a commemoration of the Last Supper. There is also Good Friday which involves the commemoration of Jesus Christ's Crucifixion and is traditionally a day of fasting and penance. The eggs that people normally eat, hide and decorate have been seen as ancient symbol of fertility, while springtime is considered to bring new life and rebirth.
Personally I believe that it is important to learn about different religions and their celebrations because it allows us to have a better understanding of the world and the people around us. Here at Bassaleg, diversity is celebrated and inclusivity is at the heart of our values so that everyone feels welcomed and involved in our lovely school.