Holidays this Month: September

1-4 September – Eid al-Adha (Muslim)*
At the end of the Hajj (the pilgrimage to Mecca), Muslims from all over the world celebrate the holiday known as the Eid al-Adha or Festival of the Sacrifice. This is most often considered to be the most important Muslim feast and is a four-day public holiday in Muslim countries.

This festival commemorates, on one hand, the obedience of the Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) when he was ordered to sacrifice his son Is’mail (Ishmael).  Ibrahim proved his love and devotion to Allah by showing his willingness to follow Allah’s instructions.  In the end, though, Ibrahim did not have to kill his son as Allah gave him a ram to sacrifice instead.  Thus, this holiday commemorates Ibrahim’s utter obedience on one hand, but God’s profound mercy on the other.

This obedience and mercy are celebrated by Muslims each year.  During the festival Muslims eat meat in remembrance of Ibrahim’s steadfast act of piety, and in remembrance of God’s mercy will distribute the meat among family, friends, and the poor.  Other forms of charity and gift-giving are also common.

21 September – International Day of Peace (United Nations)
A day of global ceasefire and nonviolence, and an invitation to all nations and people to honor cessation of hostilities.

21-22 September – Rosh ha-Shanah (Jewish)*
In Hebrew, Rosh ha-Shanah means, literally, “head of the year” or “first of the year”.  As such, Rosh ha-Shanah is commonly known as the Jewish New Year.  This new year is a time to begin introspection, looking back at the mistakes of the past year and planning the changes to make in the coming year.  No work is permitted on Rosh ha-Shanah for observant Jews and much of the day will typically be spent in synagogue.  One of the most important observances of this holiday is hearing the sounding of the shofar, or ram’s horn, in the synagogue.  The hearing of the shofar is an “alarm clock” for the soul to wake up out the mundane and to focus on spiritual matters.  The common greeting for this holiday is L’shanah tovah (“for a good year”).

21-22 September – New Year – Hijra (Muslim)
The first day of the first month of the Islamic year.  Begins at sundown on the previous day.

21-29 September – Navaratri (Hindu)
Navaratri is a nine-day celebration devoted to Durga, the Divine Mother, who is worshipped through fasting and prayer.  The celebration culminates on the tenth day, on which people may fast until dusk, offer prayers, and go to temple.  As with many Hindu holidays, these practices vary by region.

22 September – Equinox (Wicca/Pagan)
The autumnal equinox marks the beginning of the fall season and occurs when the sun passes over the equator on its journey southward, creating a day and night of equal length (12 hours each).  One might think of this time as a point when nature is in balance—both in terms of day and night, and regarding this midpoint of harvest season.  This is when one begins to reap what one has sown.  This equinox is thus a time when one might reflect upon the past and also plan for the future.

28 September – Saraswati Puja (Hindu)
Saraswati is the goddess of learning, arts, and crafts, and may be worshipped at the beginning of the school year as students pray for success in their educational pursuits.  Saraswati Puja is a festival of great joy typically celebrated at schools, colleges, and also at home.  As a goddess, there are many myths and legends about Saraswati that tell about her role in immortality, and her mystery, beauty, and grace.

30 September – Yom Kippur (Jewish)*
Yom Kippur is the Jewish Day of Atonement and it is the holiest and most solemn day on the Jewish calendar.  This day is set aside for humanity to atone for the sins of the past year, repent, and make amends.  At the end of this day, the judgments in God’s “book” are sealed for the year to come.  Observant Jews will fast from sundown to sundown and will refrain work on this holiday.  Most of this day is spent in prayer.  Yom Kippur begins at sundown on Friday, September 29th.  The proper way to wish someone well for Yom Kippur is to say:  “Have an easy fast.”

30 September – Dasara or Dushera (Hindu)
This holiday celebrates the victory of good over evil, which is narrated in fantastic detail in varying regional myths of India and Bengal.  Many celebrate this holiday with elaborate performances recreating the battle between good and evil, with pujas (devotions), and by sending greetings to friends and relatives.  An evening feast is also common to celebrate this holiday.

*Denotes students or co-workers may require religious accommodation.