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Christian Bible

The writings of Christianity include the Old Testament bible of the Jewish faith and the New Testament, believed to have been written in the first and second century.

The New Testament is:

  • Four gospels, about the life and death of Jesus
  • The Acts of the Apostles, a book about the first-century missionaries of Christianity
  • Twenty-one epistles, or letters, written to various churches
  • The Book of Revelation, a prophecy of the future of mankind

Easter Celebration

Easter is a time of solemn observances and triumphant celebrations for the 2.5 billion Christians around the world.

  • Ash Wednesday is on March 1 this year. The 40 days of Lent concludes on the Sunday before Easter
  • Holy Week begins on April 9 with Palm Sunday, the day the cheering crowds welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem by laying palm branches at his feet 
  • When those same crowds began to condemn him, Jesus gathered with his Apostles for the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, explaining that one of them was about to betray him
  • Good Friday was the day Jesus was arrested and crucified
  • On Easter Sunday Christians believe that Jesus’ soul was resurrected from death and ascended to heaven, representing God’s forgiving nature

Modern Day Islam

Islam is said to be the fastest growing world religion. Information about the beliefs of the Islam religion, and the benefits of becoming a Muslim, can be found at www.islamreligion.com.

Five Pillars of Islam 

As Muslims observe the daily prayer ritual they’re reminded of the responsibility to their community while focusing on their own lifelong spiritual journey

Ramadan

The history of Islam begins with the story of Muhammad ibn Abdullah, believed to be the last and most recent prophet chosen by God to receive his message to humanity.

According to Muslim tradition, Muhammad often prayed alone in the hills near the city of Mecca. One day, the angel Gabriel suddenly appeared and encouraged him to recite the first of many revelations that would eventually become the chapters of the Quran.

Muhammad was frightened at first but he talked with others about how they should stop worshiping the idols of their separate religions and pray only to Allah while striving to live in peace with one another.

Fasting during the month of Ramadan is the Fourth Pillar of Islam and is celebrated in remembrance of Muhammad’s prophesies and the beginning of the religion of Islam.

In 2017, Ramadan is observed from May 27-June 25.

Traditions of Judaism

Jewish holidays have deep connections to historical events. In the twenty-first century, the holiday observances, traditional foods, and daily prayer rituals that symbolize the rich cultural heritage of Judaism bring the past vividly to life for the younger generation.

The source of the laws and traditions of Judaism is the Torah, which is also the Old Testament Bible of Christianity. Moses is believed to have written these works during his lifetime, from 1525-1645 BCE.

Passover

About 1500 years before the birth of Jesus, events from the Old Testament Book of Exodus were taking place as God commanded Moses to lead the Israelite people from slavery in Egypt to a “promised land.”

To convince the Egyptian Pharaoh to let the Israelite workers leave, God afflicted the Egyptian people with ten plagues, the last of which was the death of every first-born son. The Israelites were instructed to paint a symbol on their doorway so this last plague would “pass over” their families. 

Passover lasts for seven days, beginning with the Seder, a meal including unleavened bread which was symbolic of the Israelite people preparing for a journey and leaving Egypt before their bread had time to rise. The holiday is both somber and festive, an occasion to celebrate the freedom of the Israelites while remembering the fate of the Egyptian people under the Pharaoh’s rule.

This year, Passover begins on the evening of April 10 and ends on April 18.

At Peace With Nature

Hindus have a strong belief in non-violence. As a result India is the most vegetarian country in the world. Rice, beans, and vegetables are combined into savory stews or else roasted and served with unleavened bread.

The festive and colorful Gods of Hinduism are believed to each represent a different quality of the one true god, Brahman. 

Festival of Colors

March 12 is the start of the Hindu “festival of colors” known as Holi. Themes such as the triumph of good over evil are celebrated by lighting bonfires in the evening and then gathering to throw colored powder on each other in a spirit of love and happiness.

Hindu tradition explains that the lighting of the bonfires represents the death of Holika, the evil sister of Prahlada. Holika’s father was angry that his son Prahlada was filled with love and peace as he worshiped the Hindu god, Vishnu. He told Holika to lure Prahlada onto a pyre where he would light a fire that her magic shawl would protect her from while Prahlada would be killed. When the fire was lit, Vishnu caused the magic shawl to fly from Holika’s shoulders onto Prahlada, protecting him while the evil Holika was burned away.

The festive colors of Holi have a basis in Hindu mythology as well. The god Vishnu is often represented in the human world by Krishna, an indigo-colored boy playing a flute. Krishna was said to be so in love with Radha, the fair-skinned Hindu goddess, that he playfully sprinkled her with colored spices to make her look like him.

Studying Buddhism

Buddhanet.net will connect you with an endless variety of websites and ebooks for studying the philosphies of Buddhism at every level.

A central theme of Buddhism is that humans have the power to create happiness and diminish pain by focusing the mind with prayer and meditation.

Buddha Day

Though Buddhist traditions vary from one community to another, Vesak is the most celebrated festival of the year, observed in the month of May usually on the day of the full moon.

Buddhists believe that on Vesak, or “Buddha Day”:

  • Siddhartha Gautama was born in the year 563 BCE in Nepal
  • He achieved “enlightenment” about 35 years later, becoming known as the Buddha
  • He passed away from natural causes at the age of 83

Vesak is a day of prayer and meditation. Small gifts are brought to Buddhist monks as they chant the ancient teachings of the Buddha. Colorful artwork and paper lamps represent the lightness of Buddha’s soul as he inspires the younger generation.

In 2017, Buddha Day is celebrated on May 10.