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This weekend sees the convergence of three major holidays in Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. Friday evening marks the start of Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, which is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. Jewish people often fast and spend the period from Friday evening to Saturday evening in intense prayer. Yom Kippur completes the annual period known in Judaism as the High Holy Days that commenced with Rosh Hashanah on September 20th.
Ashura begins Friday evening, and carries significance for all Muslims but especially those who adhere to Shi’a teachings. In Sunni Islam, Ashura marks the day that Moses and his followers were saved from Pharaoh by God creating a path in the Red Sea. For Shi’a Muslims, Ashura marks the death of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 of the Islamic calendar (680 CE). The Battle of Karbala played a central role in shaping the identity of Shia Islam and turned the small group into a sect with its own rituals and collective memory.
And the Hindu festival of Dasara or Dussehra celebrates the end of Navratri, which began on September 21st. The holiday is observed for different reasons and celebrated differently in various parts of the Indian subcontinent. For some it marks the goddess Durga’s victory over the buffalo demon. It can also signify the victory of the god Rama over the demon king Ravana, or can mark reverence for the goddess Saraswati. Dussehra kicks off the preparation for one of the most important and widely celebrated Hindu holy days: Diwali, the festival of lights, which takes place on October 19th this year.
We’d like to wish all of our Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu friends — especially our ING speakers — peaceful and blessing-filled holy days!