This coming time of Easter is the major festival of the Christian religion. It is also the time of Passover of the Jews, the great event of the freedom of the Jewish nation from tyranny and the passing of the Red Sea. This time at this year also marks several festivals from other religions and we give account of these festivals and greetings to religious communities of the Goulburn Valley at this festival time.
Pesach – Passover
Passover or Pesah is a holiday or festival celebrated by Jewish people. They celebrate it to remember when God used Moses to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, as told in the book of Exodus in the Bible. God told Moses to set aside this special week originally called “the feast of unleavened bread”. (Leaven is yeast) During this time the people eat special foods, do special rituals and sing songs. Passover is around the time of Easter.
In times past, Pesach – or Passover – was celebrated in Shepparton. We give below an account of the Shepparton Synagogue:
The early settlers formed a committee to deal with community issues. They purchased a five acre block of land on the corner of Doyles Lane and Poplar Avenue in Orrvale. In 1924, a small home was purchased from the Stagg family. It was moved to the Orrvale block and then converted into a synagogue. In 1928, with the Jewish Welfare Society assistance, the Jewish Community Hostel was built beside the synagogue.
The Shepparton Interfaith Network extends Moadim l’simcha to the Jewish community of the Goulburn Valley on occasion of Pesach.
Holy Thursday – Good Friday – Easter Day
Easter Triduum, Holy Triduum, Paschal Triduum, or The Three Days, is the period of three days that begins with the liturgy on the evening of Maundy Thursday (the vigil of Good Friday) and ends with evening prayer on Easter Sunday, the three-day period therefore from the evening of Maundy Thursday (excluding most of Thursday) to the evening of Resurrection Sunday. It recalls the passion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, as portrayed in the four Gospels.
After the Gloria in Excelsis Deo at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper all church bells are silenced and the organ is not used. The period that lasted from Thursday morning to before Easter Sunday began was once, in Anglo-Saxon times, referred to as “the still days”.
The Shepparton Interfaith Network joins with all Christians in celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Birthday of Mahavira – Jain Religion
On Good Friday, Jains will celebrate the Birth of Mahavira, the most well known of the Jain “Great Teachers”.
Mahavira (599 BCE–527 BCE), also known as Vardhamana, was the twenty-fourth and last tirthankara (great teacher) of Jainism. Therefore, although Mahavira is widely regarded as the founder of Jainism, he is more properly seen as a reformer of Jainism.
Mahavira was born into a royal family in what is now Bihar, India. At the age of 30 he left his home in pursuit of spiritual awakening (Diksha). For the next twelve and a half years he practiced intense meditation and severe penance, after which he achieved Kevala Jnana or enlightenment. He travelled all over Bharata (which was larger than today’s India) for the next thirty years to teach his philosophy which is based on ahimsa, satya, asteya, brahmacharya and aparigraha. Mahavira attained moksha at the age of 72.
The Shepparton Interfaith Network extends good wishes to all Jains on the occasion of Mahavira Jayanthi.
Birthday of Hanuman, the Immortal Devotee
On Easter Saturday, the devotees of the Hindu Religion celebrate the birth of Lord Hanuman of the race of Vanaras (now extinct) who served Lord Rama. The story of Hanuman is told in the epic called Ramayana, the story of the abduction of Sita, the wife of Lord Rama, and her recovery, in which Lord Hanuman was instrumental. Hanuman is widely venerated throughout India.
Hanuman Jayanti is an important festival of Hindus. Hanuman is the symbol of strength and energy. Sacred narratives about Hanuamn tell of his ability to wield rocks, move mountains, dart through the air and other superhuman deeds. He is also reputed to know the language of demons, and able to defeat them in rhetoric and debate.
Hanuman was an ardent devotee of Lord Rama and very rarely separated from the service of Rama. His total devotion to Lord Rama was recognised when gifts were being disbursed to all who had participated in the great saga. Due his utter devotion, Lord Rama granted Hanuman the gift of immortality; wherever the tale of the Ramayana is recited, there Hanuman may be present.
The Shepparton Interfaith Network beseeches the grace of Hanuman Chalisa upon all Hindus in the Goulburn Valley on this occasion of Hanuman Jayanthi.
Buddhist New Year
On Easter Saturday, Theravada Buddhists will celebrate Theravadin New Year.
In Theravadin countries, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Lao, the new year is celebrated for three days from the first full moon day in April. In Mahayana countries the new year starts on the first full moon day in January. However, the Buddhist New Year depends on the country of origin or ethnic background of the people. As for example, Chinese, Koreans and Vietnamese celebrate late January or early February according to the lunar calendar, whilst the Tibetans usually celebrate about one month later.
Theravada Buddhism is followed by various countries and people around the globe, and are:
In South Asia:
- Nepal (by 10% of the population)
- Sri Lanka (by 70% of the population)
- Bangladesh (by 0.7% of the population)
- Mizoram, India
In Southeast Asia:
- Cambodia (by 95% of the population)
- Laos (by 67% of the population)
- Myanmar (by 89% of the population)
- Thailand (by 90% of the population, 94% of the population that practices religion)
- Vietnam (by the Khmer Krom)
In other parts of Asia:
- China (mainly by the Shan and other Tai ethnic groups)
- Malaysia (by the Malaysian Siamese)
The Shepparton Interfaith Network prays that the Blessings of the Buddha (Shogatsu, Songkran) be upon all who follow Buddhism as a way of life in the Goulburn Valley.
Sikh Gurbani with Clem Furphy at the opening of the Sanctuary, GV Health.
In the background is the Tree of Life with symbols of all the religions.
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