Holy days, gathered in April, trigger interfaith celebrations

It is a convergence that only happens rarely. Coinciding with the Passover of Judaismthe Easter of Christianity and the holy month of Islam RamadanBuddhists, Baha’is, Sikhs, Jains and Hindus also celebrate their holy days in April.

The spring clash of religious holidays inspires a series of interfaith events. In Chicago, the Interfaith Trolley Tour will be held on April 24, where a trolley will make stops at the worship houses of various denominations. In cities across the country, Muslims invite people to interfaith iftars so they can break their daily Ramadan fasts with their non-Muslim neighbors.

In addition to Easter, Easter and Ramadan, holy days in April this year include the Vaisakhi of the Sikhs and Hindus, the Mahavir Jayanti of the Jains, the Baha’i Festival in Ridvan and the Buddhist New Year in Theravada.

Across faiths, the celebration of the overlapping holy days and religious festivals is seen as an opportunity to share meals and rituals. For some, it is also a chance to learn how to work together between faith traditions on crucial issues, including how to help curb climate change, combat religious intolerance and help people fleeing Afghanistan, Ukraine and other nations during the global refugee crisis.

“The rare convergence of such a wide range of holy days is an opportunity for all of us to share what we hold sacred with our neighbors from other traditions as a way to build understanding and bridge the gaps,” said Eboo Patel, the founder and the president. of Interfaith America, formerly known as Interfaith Youth Core. “This is Interfaith America in the microcosm.”

On Chicago’s south side, the upcoming trolley ride is meant to teach attendees about this year’s April holidays, which gather for the first time in the same month since 1991, said Kim Schultz, coordinator of creative initiatives at Chicago Theological Seminary’s InterReligious Institute.

The carriage will stop at several sacred spaces, including a Baptist church, a mosque, and a synagogue, and will end with an iftar at sunset provided by newly resettled Afghan refugees.

“We ask people to take advantage of this confluence, the convergence … more than half of the world celebrates or celebrates the critical moment in our faith traditions,” said Hind Makki, director of recruitment and communications at American Islamic College.

The event is sponsored by American Islamic College, Chicago Theological Seminary, Center for Christian-Muslim Engagement for Peace and Justice at the Lutheran School of Theology, Hyde Park & ​​Kenwood Interfaith Council and Parliament of the World’s Religions. After more than two years of COVID-19 restrictions that changed many vacations, supporters are eager to meet in person again.

The organizers of the Chicago event said they had arranged a trolley that could carry 25 people, but there was so much interest across faiths that they instead had to arrange a larger trolley for 40 people. And then, as more and more people joined, another trolley.

“It’s a great time,” Makki said. “So why not take the opportunity to learn about each other’s traditions, to learn about each other through these traditions.”

As part of this month’s celebrations, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of the United States opened its mosques to host dozens of interfaith iftars in cities across the nation, centered on the theme of ‘justice through compassion’.

“During our assemblies across 35 cities, we stressed that the world we see now is on the brink of a world war,” said Amjad Mahmood Khan, national director of public affairs for Ahmadiyya. “And only the collective prayers and actions of believers can truly save humanity from self-destruction.”

Religious leaders from Christian, Jewish, Sikh, and Hindu denominations recently gathered for a virtual panel celebrating the convergence of their sacred rites. Among the issues discussed were shared concerns about the emergence of white Christian nationalism and legislation in Arizona and Florida that they criticized for marginalizing LGBTQ youth.

“We see that convergence is highly symbolic, perhaps even divinely ordained, as our people need to reaffirm our common values ​​of love, freedom and justice in order to disrupt white Christian nationalists’ attempts to decide what ideas, identities and practices there are. valued and respected, ”said Pastor Jennifer Butler, founder and CEO of the Washington-based multi-religious group Faith in Public Life.

“This holy season allows for solidarity, for prophetic testimony, as we deplore the rise of intolerance and discriminatory laws that threaten our nation’s quest to be a multiracial and multi-religious democracy,” she said.

It will also be an important moment for members of different faiths to find common ground in the run-up to the US midterm elections, said Nina Fernando, CEO of the Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, a multi-religious national coalition committed to countering and preventing anti -muslim. discrimination.

“With the time we live in, where we are essentially polarized and divided between racial and religious and political lines, we can take the opportunity to talk about how to live well together in the midst of our diversity and talk about these holidays overlap, “Fernando said.

The convergence of holidays also provides an opportunity to dispel misunderstandings about religious traditions and value common values, said Pastor Stephen Avino, Executive Director of the Parliament of World Religions.

“Holidays are the introduction of core values, and we can actually see before our eyes the beauty of this tradition through holidays and through rituals,” Avino said. “You can compare it to your own traditions, and you can see the similarities and differences, and within that is the beauty of it. And you begin to see that faith as worthy of reverence while still preserving your own faith.”

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The Associated Press’s religious coverage receives support through the AP’s partnership with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. AP is solely responsible for this content.

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