In this time of the public observances of the Passion of Jesus and the Resurrection, 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. There are also observances in other religions which we mark at this time.
Passover in Australia
Passover (Pesach) in Australia lasts for eight days. Many Jewish people mark Passover with family members and close friends. Communal celebrations are held in some rural and regional areas. The first day of Passover is Tuesday, April 11.
Many Jewish people in Australia celebrate Passover at home with family and close friends. People are also encouraged to invite someone into their home who would otherwise not be able to take part in the celebrations. Some people choose to spend the whole Passover period in a Jewish resort or retreat at a hotel. Apart from Seders (celebratory meals), people can take part in educational activities and lectures on Jewish life and culture and sports.
In some rural areas, communal celebratory meals (Seders) are held. These give Jewish people living a long way from Jewish communities a chance to take a full part in the Passover celebrations. Extra Seders are held in Byron Bay, Cairns, Coffs Harbour, Darwin and Fremantle.
You may wish to read an account of the practice of Passover and the scriptural requirements and how these might be read. Ready “What’s the Point of Passover?“
Passover recalls the story of God’s actions bringing Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land.
The Shepparton Interfaith Networks sends greetings to the Jewish Community of the Goulburn Valley.
Christianity – Passiontide, Easter
Easter observances in the Churches – for many churches – begins on the Thursday before Easter when Jesus observed what is called the Last Supper with his disciples and followers. This 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.
Pope Francis as said, For a “good Easter,” Christians must do more than simply recall the passion of Jesus during Holy Week; they must “enter into the mystery” of the Easter time (Holy Thursday-Good Friday-Easter Saturday) and make Jesus’ feelings and attitudes their own, the Pope said. The Pope will not be celebrating Maundy Thursday mass in St Peter’s, Rome. The Pope will be celebrating Mass in Paliano Prison (in the Province of Frosinone) outside of Rome.
The Shepparton Interfaith Network joins in reflection on the mystery of the passion, death and resurrection of Lord Jesus .
Birthday of Mahavira – Jain Religion
Earlier this week, Jains celebrated the anniversary of Mahavira, the last 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.
Jainism is one of the greatest and the oldest religions of the world, though it is not known much outside India. Even in India, compared to the total population of India, Jainism at present is followed by a minority of the Indian population amounting to about four million people. Yet Jainism is not unknown to the scholars of the world in the field of religion and philosophy, because of its highest noble religious, principles. Though followed by comparatively less people in the world, Jainism is highly respected by all those non-Jainas who have studied Jainism or who have come into contact with the true followers of Jainism. There are instances of non-Jaina people in the world who have most willingly either adopted Jainism or have accepted and put into practice the principles of Jainism.
Though a religion of a small minority, Jainism is not the religion of a particular race, caste or community. People from all the four classified communities of ancient India-Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra have followed Jainism. In the principles of Jainism, there is nothing which would debar a person of any particular nation, race, caste, community, creed, etc. from following Jainism. Hence Jainism is a Universal Religion.
The followers of Jainism are called Jainas. The word “Jaina” is derived from the Sanskrit word “Jina”. One who follows and worships Jina is called a Jaina. Etymologically “Jina” means the conqueror or the victorious. Those who have conquered all their passions and have attained perfect liberation of their soul from the cycle of birth and death are called “Jina”. A “Jina” who spiritually leads and guides his follwers is called “Tirthankara”.
According to Jainism the time is cyclic. One cycle of time, consisting of six parts of ascendance and six parts of descendance, has more than millions of million years and in one such ascendance or descendance of cycle, there are twenty-four such Tirthankaras. In the present cycle of time, the first Tirthankara is Rishabhadeva or Adinatha and the last Tirthankara is Mahavira.
The Shepparton Interfaith Network sends greetings to Jains in Australia on occasion of Mahavir Jayanthi.
Birthday of Hanuman
Earlier this week, the devotees of the Hindu Religion celebrated the birth of Sri 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 consort of Lord Rama, and her recovery, in which Lord Hanuman was instrumental.
A key part of the story was finding Rama’s consort Sita who had been abducted by the Demon king Ravana. Hanuman is given the ring of Lord Rama to take as his auspice for Sita, and told to go to the South, where one encounters the sea. As Hanuman is son of the wind-god Vayu, he may leap and fly through the air.
The shakti or energy which enables Hanuman to fly through the air is namasmrana, the repetition of the divine name. In this case, Hanuman is repeating the name of Rama, who has given him the ring. The ring, as passport, introduces Hanuman to Sita in that it is testimonial to his sincerity and proof of his identity.
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 greets the Hindus of the Goulburn Valley on occasion of Hanuman Jayanthi.
Vaisakhi – Sikh New Year
Vaisakhi also known as Baisakhi, Vaishakhi, or Vasakhi is a historical and religious festival in Sikhism. It is usually celebrated on April 13 or 14 every year. Vaisakhi marks the Sikh new year and commemorates the formation of Khalsa panth of warriors under Guru Gobind Singh in 1699. In 2017, Vaishakhi occurs on Good Friday.
Vaisakhi is celebrated with parades, dancing and singing throughout the day. Many Sikhs choose to be baptised into the Khalsa brotherhood on this day.
Kirtan is a term meaning the singing of hymns from the Guru Grath Sahib, the Sikh holy book. Celebrations always include music, singing and chanting scriptures and hymns.
The processions are led by traditionally dressed Panj Piaras. The Guru Granth Sahib will be carried in the procession in a place of honour. There will be a celebration of Vaisakhi at Federation Square as part of Sikh Heritage Month on April 30. Read more here
The Shepparton Interfaith Networks celebrates Vaisahki and sends good wishes to the Sikhs of the Goulburn Valley.
Theravada New Year
Earlier this week – from Full Moon Day – Buddhists in South East Asia have been celebrating Buddhist (Theravadin) New Year.
In Theravadin (Buddhist) countries, Thailand, Burma, Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Lao, the new year is celebrated for three days from the first full moon day in April. This year, Theravadin New Year occurs on Tuesday 11.4.2017. 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.
The Shepparton Interfaith Networks sends greetings to the Buddhists of the Goulburn Valley who are celebrating Therevadin New Year.
Stoneware sculpture of the Buddha attaining final transcendence, known as parinirvana, as he died. c. 1503, by Qiao Bin. Photo courtesy The Met.
New Year in South India
Friday, 14 April is Tamil New Year in Tamil Nadu, South India. Friday 14 April is also Vishu, in Kerala, another South Indian state. Vishu is the New Year of the Keraliteṣ. The Vishu day celebrations begin with the ‘Vishukani.’ ‘Vishu Kani’ is the first auspicious thing that people see on the day and this takes place during the Brahma Muhurta or ideally between 0400 hrs and 0600 hrs.