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world religion

world religion
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This assignment uses the information you have gathered for your weekly World View Chart Assignments. Choose one (1) category (origin of all things, nature of god, view of human nature, view of good and evil, etc.) from the chart to focus on for this assignment. Consider how the selected aspect relates to each of the religions covered and to your own social or work experiences.
Write a two to three (2-3) page paper in which you:
Select one (1) category from the completed World View Chart. Provide a rationale for choosing this category.
Describe the selected content and explain the significance of the selected category across the religions studied.
Provide one (1) specific example of how the selected category is manifested in your social environment.
Use at least three (3) quality resources as references for the assignment and document your sources using APA Style for in-text citations and references. Note: Wikipedia and similar Websites do not qualify as quality resources.
Write clearly and coherently using correct grammar, punctuation, spelling, and mechanics.
Your assignment must:
Be typed, double spaced, using Times New Roman font (size 12), with one-inch margins on all sides; citations and references must follow APA or school-specific format. Check with your professor for any additional instructions.
Include a cover page containing the title of the assignment, the student’s name, the professor’s name, the course title, and the date. The cover page and the reference page are not included in the required assignment page length.
The specific course learning outcomes associated with this assignment are:
Analyze what is meant by religion.
Analyze the similarities and differences in the primary beliefs held by major religious traditions and the cultures in which these religions evolved.
Describe the varieties of religious experience and practice in a wide range of cultures.
Recognize how daily life within various religions and current affairs are influenced by religion.
Develop written pieces that demonstrate an analysis of a topic relevant to the course.
Use technology and information resources to research issues in religion.
Write clearly and concisely about world religions using proper writing mechanics.
Religion Origin of All Things Nature of God View of Human Nature View of Good and Evil View of “Salvation” View of After Life Practices and Rituals Celebrations and Festivals
“Week 1
Indigenous Peoples” Bursts of Cosmic Energy creates everything God is in everything Humans should be in touch with nature and all that is around them “Good and Evil is in everyone and everything
They must choose which one they act upon” Balance with Nature and everything in it Most have no specific mention of the afterlife “Sacred Sites
Personal ways of practicing
Secret Societies
Priests/Priestesses
Healers” “Storytelling
Chanting
Drumming
Dancing

“Week 2
Hinduism and Jainism” No specific origin or founder Gods are in male and female form and represent many different things Karma, what comes around goes around good actions have good effects, bad actions have bad effects-karma Moksha is when an enlightened human being is freed from the cycle of life-and-death (the endless cycle of death and reincarnation) and comes into a state of completeness. He then becomes one with God. Samsara-reincarnation “Sculptures
Images
Home shrines
Meditation
Ayurveda
Hatha Yoga
Kundalini Yoga
Puja (Pooja)
” “Diwali
Holi
Durga Puja
Raksha Bandhan
Krishna Janmashthami
Ganesh Chaturthi
Shiv Ratri
The Onam Carnival
Vasant Panchami
Guru Purnima
Karwa Chauth
Bhai Dooj
Vasanta Navaratri
The Kumbh & Ardhkumbh”
“Week 3
Buddhism
” beginning of this world and of life is inconceivable since they have neither beginning nor end do not believe in the concept of a personal God, Enlightened being, who vows to save all sentient beings from their sufferings “a composite of five aggregates (khandas):
Physical forms (rupa)
Feelings or sensations (vedana)
Ideations (sanna)
Mental formations or dispositions (sankhara)
Consciousness (vinnana)
These khandas come together at birth to form a human person. A person is a “self” in that he or she is a true subject of moral action and karmic accumulation, but not in the sense that he or she has an enduring or unchanging soul.” “good and evil are innate, inseparable aspects of life
good and evil in Buddhism are seen not as absolute but relative or “relational.” The good or evil of an act is understood in terms of its actual impact on our own lives and the lives of others, not on abstract rules of conduct” Buddha realized that each and every person has a capacity to purify his soul and mind and therefore he encouraged people to find solutions to their problems themselves. He asked people to follow the path from Heart to Heaven rather than from Heaven to Heart. And therefore, the Buddhist path to salvation does not go through prayers, but is rather based on deeds including mental culture through meditation. “after death one is either reborn into another body (reincarnated) or enters nirvana
Nirvana is only achieved by those that reach enlightenment” “Meditation
Mantras
Mudras
Prayer wheels
” “Buddhist New Year
Buddha’s Birthday is known as Vesak or Visakah Puja
Songkran-(essentially a cleansing of life by cleaning homes and washing clothes etc.)
The Ploughing Festival(May, when the moon is half-full, two white oxen pull a gold painted plough, followed by four girls dressed in white who scatter rice seeds from gold and silver baskets. This is to celebrate the Buddha’s first moment of enlightenment)
Loy Krathong: When the rivers and canals are full of water, this festival takes place in all parts of Thailand on the full moon night of the twelfth lunar month. Bowls made with leaves, candles, and incense sticks, are placed in the water, and represent bad luck disappearing.”
“Week 4
Daoism and
Confucianism” ? “They believe that God is loving and benign
http://religions.findthebest.com/q/4/1464/What-is-the-nature-of-god-according-to-Confucianism” “the purpose of existence is to reach one’s highest potential as a human being. Through a rigorous process of self-cultivation that lasts a lifetime, one may eventually become a “perfected person.” ?http://www.patheos.com/Library/Confucianism/Beliefs/Human-Nature-and-the-Purpose-of-Existence.html#ixzz38hI0maX2″ “suffering and evil are inevitable in human life, and can promote learning and growth. A mistake is not a “sin,” but an opportunity to learn and do better next time.
http://www.patheos.com/Library/Confucianism/Beliefs/Suffering-and-the-Problem-of-Evil.html” “Confucians do not typically hold beliefs about the individual salvation or damnation of persons beyond this life
http://www.patheos.com/Library/Confucianism/Beliefs/Afterlife-and-Salvation.html
In Daoism death is neither feared nor desired instead a person enjoys living.” “Confucianism regards both life and death as a responsibility to society, while Daoism (Taoism) holds that both life and death should be in conformity to nature.
http://www.crvp.org/book/series03/iii-3/appendix_b_theories_of_life_and_.htm
In no area is the lack of a single unified Taoist belief system more evident than in the case of concepts about the afterlife and salvation. Several factors have contributed to this: 1) Taoism was at no point the only religion of China, but, rather, coexisted with Confucianism and Buddhism, as well as with Chinese folk religion; 2) each Taoist sect had its own beliefs and textual traditions, and these underwent changes over time; and 3) death and the afterlife became the province of Buddhism early in Chinese history, so that most ideas about the afterlife are Buddhist, or were developed in reaction to Buddhism
http://www.patheos.com/Library/Taoism/Beliefs/Afterlife-and-Salvation.html” “Aside from its important ethical principles, Confucianism does not prescribe any specific rituals or practices. These are filled by the practices of Chinese religion, Taoism, Buddhism, or other religion which Confucians follow.
http://www.religionfacts.com/a-z-religion-index/confucianism.htm
Temple rituals can be used to regulate ch’i and balance the flow of yin and yang both for individuals and the wider community.
Other rituals involve prayers to various Daoist deities, meditations on talismans, and reciting and chanting prayers and texts.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/taoism/rites/rites.shtml” “The 28th day of September is the birthday of Confucius. To honor him and his ideals, Teacher’s Day is also celebrated on the same day. Confucius believed that learning and education should not only be for the aristocracy but for everyone. Celebrations range from very elaborate ceremonies at large temples to simply taking a day off for contemplation on the virtues of Confucius. Teachers usually receive small presents from their students as a token of gratitude.
The Chinese Ching Ming Festival, also called, Ancestor Day, normally falls on the 4th or 5th of April. The date will depend on the Cold Food Day that signifies 105 days after the winter solstice. This is a day set aside to honor ancestors by visiting their graves. There are also certain rituals that have been practiced for centuries. These include offering food and burning paper money. Aside from honoring their ancestors, the celebration is intended to educate their children about their ancestors.
The Qufu International Confucius Festival is celebrated annually between September 26th and October 10 in the city of Qufu, Shandong Province. This is the hometown of Confucius where he was born on September 28th. The celebration includes a grand ceremony that includes honoring Confucius and performances at the Temple of Confucius. There are also presentations at the Cemetery of Confucius. Occasionally, a kung fu competition may also be held as part of the celebrations.
http://china.answers.com/chinese-culture/celebrating-confucianism-holidays-in-china

“Week 5
Shinto
” Shinto came about in as early as the 6th century B.C.E. http://www.patheos.com/Library/Shinto.html Kami are the spirits or phenomena that are worshipped in the religion of Shinto. They are elements in nature, animals, creationary forces in the universe, as well as spirits of the revered deceased. Many Kami are considered the ancient ancestors of entire clans, and some ancestors became Kami upon their death if they were able to embody the values and virtues of Kami in life. Traditionally great or charismatic leaders like the Emperor could be kami. In Shinto, Kami are not separate from nature, but are of nature, possessing positive and negative, good and evil characteristics. They are manifestations of Musubi the interconnecting energy of the universe, and are considered exemplary of what humanity should strive towards. Kami are believed to be “hidden” from this world, and inhabit a complementary existence that mirrors our own “In Shinto it is commonly said that “man is kami’s child.” First, this means that a person was given his life by kami and that his nature is therefore sacred. Second, it means that daily life is made possible by kami, and, accordingly, the personality and life of people are worthy of respect. An individual must revere the basic human rights of everyone (regardless of race, nationality, and other distinctions) as well as his own. The concept of original sin is not found in Shinto. On the contrary, man is considered to have a primarily divine nature.
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/540856/Shinto/8493/Nature-of-man-and-other-beliefs” “Purity is at the heart of Shinto’s understanding of good and evil.
Impurity in Shinto refers to anything which separates us from kami, and from musubi, the creative and harmonising power.
The things which make us impure are tsumi – pollution or sin.
Purity is so important in Shinto Shinto does not accept that human beings are born bad or impure; in fact Shinto states that humans are born pure, and sharing in the divine soul.
Badness, impurity or sin are things that come later in life, and that can usually be got rid of by simple cleansing or purifying rituals.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/shinto/beliefs/purity.shtml” “the concept of salvation is based on the belief that all living things have an essence, soul or spirit known as “kami.” Rather than living in a glorified Heaven, kami live among us. Some kami are more powerful than others. Some are even deified. But all kami must be honored. People who die violently, lead unhappy lives, or have no family to care for their kami become hungry ghosts, causing trouble for the living.
http://people.opposingviews.com/shinto-salvation-3538.html” It is common for families to participate in ceremonies for children at a shrine, yet have a Buddhist funeral at the time of death mostly due to the negative Japanese conception of the afterlife and death as well as Buddhism’s historical monopoly on funeral rites. In old Japanese legends, it is often claimed that the dead go to a place called yomi (??), a gloomy underground realm with a river separating the living from the dead mentioned in the legend of Izanami and Izanagi. This yomi is very close to the Greek Hades; however, later myths include notions of resurrection and even Elysium-like descriptions such as in the legend of Okuninushi and Susanoo. Shinto tends to hold negative views on death and corpses as a source of pollution called kegare. However, death is also viewed as a path towards apotheosis in Shintoism as can be evidenced by how legendary individuals become enshrined after death. “Shinto rituals are a central component of most of the national festivals in Japan, as well as of the more specialized events at particular shrines and other sacred sites. Most often they are performed by male priests who are assisted by a female shrine functionary called a miko, who often is a shaman.
The most common type of ritual involves purification – symbolically purifying oneself or an object before interacting with the kami (Shinto gods). Purification is done with water (rinsing, washing, bathing) or with the priest’s wand. Other common rituals include the formal reading of prayers from ancient collections, and making food and drink offerings to the kami (which is later shared in a communal meal). Again, these are done by priests. Other Shinto rituals are performed during smaller, more local or even private festivals. These mark stages of life, such as births, rites of passage in the early years of a child’s life, marriages, and funerals.
Finally, there are common rituals performed by individuals when they visit shrines – ritual washing, making offerings, clapping hands, and bowing.
Important to remember here is that all these rituals are designed for communication with the gods, or kami. Sometimes that communication is one-way (from the human to the kami) in which people express thanks, make requests and offer praise to the kami. At other times, that communication is two-way (from human to kami and from kami to human) in which people use the priest or miko as a mediator between them and the kami to get answers to important questions or to learn solutions to problems in their lives.
Regardless, these rituals do for the Shinto community what other rituals do for the people of every other religion: provide a means of worshipping and encountering whatever is considered divine or “ultimate” in way that is meaningful and brings order to life in a world that often feels chaotic. http://www.world-religions-professor.com/shintorituals.html” “Shinto rituals are usually just one part of a type of large public festival called a matsuri, which is the main kind of celebration in Shinto. Hundreds and thousands of them fill the calendar thought the year. They are community-oriented festival which mark all sorts of things: seasons in nature, the New Year, chrysanthemum blooms, cherry blossoms, events from the Shinto mythologies, Japanese history, agricultural traditions and more. Between these happenings, a number of important rituals are performed. About a month before the New Year, at the beginning of December, people traditionally put up a Kadomatsu – “entrance pine” – at their home. A combination of standing bamboo and pine branches, the Kadomatsu acts as a point of welcome for the Kami whose goodwill and blessings are being invoked. Nowadays in the cities, the entrance pine usually goes up the last week of December on either side of the doorways to houses, hotels, offices, bars and even bath houses. The shortening of the New Year celebration has been forced on modern people by the pressures of business life. Companies begin around the end of the first week with staff dressed in kimono (even banks do this) on the first day for ceremonial greetings. In the country areas, where the whole celebration was based on the patterns of a rice culture, New Year’s festivities used to go on until January 15, Koshogatsu, literally “Little New Year,” and sometimes continued into February.This can include house cleanings, consuming of cold dishes prepared, People sometimes visit their local shrines just after midnight, while others wait until daytime. At home, a family will clap their hands in front of the Kamidana, the shelf on which the miniature shrine is placed and make offerings to the Kami. Some people go out to watch the first sunrise of the year, hatsu-hi-node, while other simply go to a shrine the first two or three days of the year, hatsu-mode. People exchange visits, nenga ,among friends and relatives and send cards to each other, nengajo.
Children receive money, otoshidama, for the New Year and people involve themselves in the whole range of activities special to the New Year such as ladies in kimono playing a kind of badminton, men playing card and dice games and, in some rural areas, costumed men called Namahage visiting homes to see if the young are behaving well. New Year is busy, exciting and still highly colorful.
Setsubun-no-hi is celebrated by the Setsubun festival. Setsubun means the day before the official calendar beginning of Spring. According to the old calendar, it marks the end of winter. People on that day at home throw beans to expel bad fortune and invoke the good. At Tsubaki, priests dress in classic costume and shrine members join in a procession for purification and then, from a great dais raised in front of the haiden, they throw packets of beans for believers and visitors to catch. As Guji of the Shrine, I shoot an arrow to break the power of misfortune and then we proceed to the ceremony. Several thousand people come that day. February 21st Toshi-goi-no-Matsuri is a festival known also as the Yakuyoke festival. Yakuyuoke means a talisman, or omamori, which is designed to ward off evil influences. Too many to discuss all…http://www.tsubakishrine.org/kaminomichi/Kami_no_Michi_Appendix_B.html

“Week 6
Judaism
” “A Divine singular God made all that exists
Everything in the universe was created by God and only by God. Judaism completely rejects the dualistic notion that evil was created by Satan or some other deity. All comes from God. This follows directly from the fact that God has no physical form. As one rabbi explained it to me, God has no body, no genitalia, therefore the very idea that God is male or female is patently absurd. We refer to God using masculine terms simply for convenience’s sake, because Hebrew has no neutral gender; God is just and merciful, omnipresent, omnipotent, eternal,omniscient, holy and perfect
http://www.jewfaq.org/g-d.htm” “He is a single, whole, complete indivisible entity. He cannot be divided into parts or described by attributes. Any attempt to ascribe attributes to God is merely man’s imperfect attempt to understand the infinite.
http://www.jewfaq.org/g-d.htm” “Humans were created in the image of God, meaning in his nature and essence. humanity was formed with two impulses: a good impulse and an evil impulse. People have the ability to choose which impulse to follow: the yetzer tov or the yetzer ra. That is the heart of the Jewish understanding of free will. The Talmud notes that all people are descended from Adam, so no one can blame his own wickedness on his ancestry. On the contrary, we all have the ability to make our own choices, and we will all be held responsible for the choices we make.
http://www.jewfaq.org/g-d.htm” Good and evil are spoken of as light and darkness in Judaism. Both were created by God. Humans have the capacity to make that choice for either good or selfless acts or the evil which is the desire to meet one’s own selfish needs and desires. “In the Jewish Bible salvation comes from the Lord and is a favor bestowed upon the nation as a whole. In Deuteronomy 28:23 and following, Moses reminds the children of Israel of the consequences of disobedience: dispersion and bondage among the nation, a desolate land, sufferings and hunger. Conversely, the following chapter states that if they repent their blessings shall be restored (Deut. 30:1-10).
http://www.chosenpeople.com/main/jewish-roots/248-salvation-as-interpreted-by-judaism” “Jewish teachings on the subject of afterlife are sparse: The Torah, the most important Jewish text, has no clear reference to afterlife at all.
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/afterlife.html” ““kosher” diet
Aside from its cosmetic and therapeutic functions, anointment was an important component of ritual formularies. The anointment of vassals was not a mere ceremonial trapping: “As oil penetrates your flesh, so may they [the gods] make this curse enter into your flesh” (D.J. Wiseman, The Vassal-Treaties of Esarhaddon (1958), lines 622–4, p. 78; cf. Ps. 109:18; for the use of oil in the making of a covenant
“Bar Mitzvah” literally means “son of the commandment.” “Bar” is “son” in Aramaic, which used to be the vernacular of the Jewish people. “Mitzvah” is “commandment” in both Hebrew and Aramaic. “Bat” is daughter in Hebrew and Aramaic. (The Ashkenazic pronunciation is “bas”)
Under Jewish Law, children are not obligated to observe the commandments, although they are encouraged to do so as much as possible to learn the obligations they will have as adults. At the age of 13 (12 for girls), children become obligated to observe the commandments. The Bar Mitzvah ceremony formally marks the assumption of that obligation, along with the corresponding right to take part in leading religious services, to count in a minyan (the minimum number of people needed to perform certain parts of religious services), to form binding contracts, to testify before religious courts and to marry.
A Jewish boy automatically becomes a Bar Mitzvah upon reaching the age of 13 years. No ceremony is needed to confer these rights and obligations. The popular bar mitzvah ceremony is not required, and does not fulfill any commandment. It is a relatively modern innovation, not mentioned in the Talmud, and the elaborate ceremonies and receptions that are commonplace today were unheard of as recently as a century ago. Wearing of a head covering (yarmulka, skullcaps, kippah [pl. kippot]) for men was only instituted in Talmudic times (approximately the second century CE). The first mention of it is in Tractate Shabbat, which discusses respect and fear of God. Some sources likened it to the High Priest who wore a hat (Mitznefet) to remind him something was always between him and God. Thus, wearing a kippah makes us all like the high priest and turns us into a “holy nation.” The head covering is also a sign of humility for men, acknowledging what’s “above” us (God).Star of David
There are too many prayers to be listed but many of them can be found at: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/praytoc.html
” “Shabbat
The weekly day of rest, on Saturday, is marked in Israel with most spending the day together with family and friends. Public transport around the majority of the country is suspended, businesses are closed, essential services are at skeleton­staff strength, and furlough is granted to as many soldiers as possible. The secular majority take advantage of their weekly day of rest for leisure time at the seashore, places of entertainment and excursions in outdoor settings. The observant devote many hours to festive family meals and services in synagogue, desist from travel and refrain from working or using appliances.
Rosh HaShanah
Marking the beginning of the Jewish new year, the origins of Rosh Hashanah is Biblical (Lev. 23:23­25): “a sacred occasion commemorated with loud blasts [of the shofar].” The term Rosh Hashanah, “beginning of the year,” is rabbinical, as are the formidable themes of the festival: repentance, preparation for the day of Divine judgment and prayer for a fruitful year. Major customs of Rosh Hashanah include the sounding of the shofar in the middle of a lengthy service that focuses on the festival themes, and elaborate meals at home to inaugurate the new year. The prayer liturgy is augmented with prayers of repentance and the Hallel, a collection of blessings and psalms recited on Rosh Hashanah, at the beginning of each new month, on the three pilgrimage festivals, and on occasions of public deliverance. In many senses, Israel begins its year on Rosh Hashanah. Government correspondence, newspapers, and most broadcasting, to give only three examples, carry the “Jewish date” first. Felicitations for the new year are generally tendered before Rosh Hashanah, not in late December.
Yom Kippur
Eight days after Rosh Ha-Shana, is the day of atonement, of Divine judgment, and of “self­denial” (Lev. 23­27) so that the individual may be cleansed of sins. The only fast day decreed in the Bible, it is a time to enumerate one’s misdeeds and contemplate one’s faults. The Jew is expected, on this day, to pray for forgiveness for sins between man and God and correct his wrongful actions for sins between man and his fellow man. The major precepts of Yom Kippur ­ lengthy devotional services and a 25­hour fast ­ are observed even by many of the otherwise secular. The level of public solemnity on Yom Kippur surpasses that of any other festival, including Rosh Hashanah. The country comes to a complete halt for 25 hours on this day; places of entertainment are closed; there are no television and radio broadcasts ­ not even the news; public transport is suspended; and even the roads are completely closed. It is reinforced in Israel by memories of the 1973 war, a surprise attack launched on Yom Kippur by Egypt and Syria against Israel.
Sukkot
Described in the Bible (Lev. 23:34) as the “Feast of Tabernacles,” Sukkot is one of the three festivals that were celebrated until 70 CE with mass pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem and are therefore known as the “pilgrimage festivals.” On Sukkot, Jews commemorate the Exodus from Egypt (c.13th century BCE) and give thanks for a bountiful harvest. At some kibbutzim, Sukkot is celebrated as Chag Ha’asif (the harvest festival), with the themes of the gathering of the second grain crop and the autumn fruit, the start of the agricultural year, and the first rains. In the days between Yom Kippur and Sukkot, tens of thousands of householders and businesses erect sukkot – booths for temporary dwelling, resembling the booths in which the Israelites lived in the desert, after their exodus from Egypt – and acquire the palm frond, citron, myrtle sprigs, and willow branches with which the festive prayer rite is augmented. All around the country, sukkot line parking lots, rooftops, lawns, and public spaces. No army base lacks one. Some Israelis spend the festival and the next six days literally living in their sukkot.
In Israel, the “holy day” portion of Sukkot (and the other two pilgrimage festivals, Passover and Shavu’ot) is celebrated for one day. Diaspora communities celebrate it for two days, commemorating the time in antiquity when calendation was performed at the Temple and its results reported to the Diaspora using a tenuous network of signal fires and couriers. After the festive day, Sukkot continues at a lesser level of sanctity, as mandated by the Torah (Lev. 23:36). During this intermediate week-half festival, half ordinary-schools are closed and many workplaces shut down or shorten their hours. Most secular Israelis spend the interim days of Sukkot and Passover at recreation sites throughout the country.
Shemini Atzeret/Simkhat Torah
The intermediate week of Sukkot and the holiday season end on the “sacred occasion of the eighth day” (Lev. 23:36). Celebration of Shemini Atseret/Simhat Torah focuses on the Torah ­ the Five Books of Moses ­ and is noted for public dancing with a Torah scroll in one’s arms and with recitation of the concluding and beginning chapters of the Torah, renewing the yearly cycle of Torah reading. After dark, many communities sponsor further festivities, often outdoors, that are not limited by the ritual restrictions that apply on the holy day itself.
Channukah
Beginning on 25 Kislev (usually in December), Channukah commemorates the triumph of the Jews led by the Maccabees over the Greek rulers (164 BCE): the physical victory of the small Jewish nation against mighty Greece and the spiritual victory of the Jewish faith against the Hellenism of the Greeks. Its sanctity derives from this spiritual aspect of the victory, and the miracle of the flask of oil, when a portion of sacramental olive oil meant to keep the Temple candelabrum lit for one day lasted for eight as the Temple was being rededicated. Channukah is observed in Israel, as in the Diaspora, for eight days. The central feature of this holiday is the lighting of candles each evening ­ one on the first night, two on the second, and so on ­ in commemoration of the miracle at the Temple. The Channukah message in Israel focuses strongly on aspects of restored sovereignty; customs widely practiced in the Diaspora, such as gift­giving and the dreidl (spinning top), are also in evidence. The dreidl’s sides are marked with Hebrew initials representing the message “A great miracle occurred here”; in the Diaspora, the initials stand for “A great miracle occurred there.” Schools are closed during this week; workplaces are not.
Tu B’Shevat
The fifteenth of Shevat (January­ February), cited in rabbinical sources as the new year of fruit trees for sabbatical, tithing, and other purposes, has almost no ritual impact. But it has acquired secular connotations as a day when trees are planted by individuals, especially by schoolchildren and it serves as the time when intensive afforestation is done by the Jewish National Fund and local authorities. During this month, the fruit trees begin to flower, starting with the almond tree, although it is still cold.
Purim
Another rabbinical festival, in early spring, occurs on 14 Adar (15 Adar in walled cities), commemorating the deliverance of beleaguered Jewry in the Persian Empire under Artaxerxes, as recounted in the Scroll of Esther. This festival compensates for the solemnity of most other Jewish observances by mandating merriment. Schools are closed, public festivities abound, newspapers run hoax items reminiscent of April Fools’ Day, children (and adults) don costumes, and a festive reading of the Scroll of Esther is marked by noisemakers sounded whenever Haman’s name is recited. The Orthodox indulge in inebriation, within limits, and carry out an exacting list of duties: giving of alms, evening and morning readings of the Scroll of Esther, recitation of Hallel to mark the national deliverance, exchange of delicacies and a full­fledged holiday feast.
Passover
In the spring, beginning on 15 Nisan, is the festival of the Exodus and liberation from bondage. Freedom is, indeed, the dominant note of Passover. The rites of Passover begin long before the festival, as families and businesses cleanse their premises of hametz-leaven and anything containing it-as prescribed in the Torah (Ex. 12:15­20). The day before the festival is devoted to preparatory rituals including ceremonial burning of the forbidden foodstuff. On the holiday evening, the seder is recited: an elaborate retelling of the enslavement, redemption, and Exodus, modeled after the ritual of the paschal sacrifice at the Temple. At this festive meal, the extended family gathers to recite the seder and enjoy traditional foods, particularly the matza-unleavened bread. The following day’s observances resemble those of the other pilgrimage festivals.
Passover is probably second only to Yom Kippur in traditional observance by the generally non­observant. In addition, a secular Passover rite based on the festival’s agricultural connotations is practiced in some kibbutzim. It serves as a spring festival, a festival of freedom, and the date of the harvesting of the first ripe grain. Passover also includes the second “intermediate” week ­ five half­sacred, half­ordinary days devoted to extended prayer and leisure, and it concludes with another festival day.
Yom HaShoah
Traditional rites of public bereavement are in evidence on Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day, less than a week after Passover, when the people of Israel commune with the memory of the six million martyrs of the Jewish people who perished at the hands of the Nazis in the Holocaust. On this day, a siren is sounded at 10 A.M., as the nation observes two minutes of silence, pledging “to remember, and to remind others never to forget.”
Yom HaZikaron
Remembrance Day for the Fallen of Israel’s Wars is commemorated a week later, as a day of remembrance for those who fell in the struggle for the establishment of the State of Israel and in its defense. At 8 P.M. and 11 A.M., two minutes of silence, as a siren sounds, give the entire nation the opportunity to remember its debt and express its eternal gratitude to its sons and daughters who gave their lives for the achievement of the country’s independence and its continued existence.
Yom HaAtzmaut
It is directly followed by Independence Day (5 Iyar), the anniversary of the Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel, on May 14, 1948. This is not a centuries old celebration, but a day that means a lot to many citizens who have physically and actively participated in the creation of a new state and have witnessed the enormous changes that have taken place since 1948.
On the eve of Independence Day municipalities sponsor public celebrations, loud­speakers broadcast popular music and multitudes go “downtown” to participate in the holiday spirit. On Independence Day many citizens get to know the countryside by travelling to battlefields of the War of Independence, visit the memorials to the fallen, go on nature hikes and, in general, spend the day outdoors picnicking and preparing barbecues. Israel Prizes for distinction in literary, artistic and scientific endeavor are presented and the International Bible Contest for Jewish Youth is held. Army bases are opened to the public and air force fly­bys, as well as naval displays take place.
Lag B’Omer
The thirty­third day in the counting of the weeks between Passover and Shavu’ot, has become a children’s celebration featuring massive bonfires, commemorating events at the time of the Bar­Kochba uprising against Rome (132­135 CE).
Jerusalem Day
Celebrated on 28 Iyar, about a week before Shavu’ot, commemorating the reunification of Jerusalem, capital of Israel, in 1967, after it was divided by concrete walls and barbed wire for nineteen years. On this day, we are reminded that Jerusalem is “the focal point of Jewish history, the symbol of ancient glory, spiritual fulfillment and modern renewal.”
Shavu’ot
The last of the pilgrimage festivals, when enumerated from the beginning of the Jewish year, falls seven weeks after Passover (6 Sivan), at the end of the barley harvest and the beginning of the wheat harvest. The Torah (Lev. 23:21) describes this occasion as the festival of weeks (Heb. shavuot), for so is it counted from Passover, and as the occasion on which new grain and new fruits are offered to the priests in the Temple. Its additional definition the anniversary of the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai ­ is of rabbinical origin. Shavuot is observed among the Orthodox with marathon religious study and, in Jerusalem, with a mass convocation of festive worship at the Western Wall. In the kibbutzim, it marks the peak of the new grain harvest and the ripening of the first fruits, including the seven species mentioned in the Bible (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives and dates).
Tisha B’Av
The lengthy summer until Rosh Ha-Shanah is punctuated by the Ninth of Av, the anniversary of the destruction of the First and Second Temples. On the day itself, numerous rules of bereavement and the Yom Kippur measures of “self­denial,” including a full­day fast, are in effect.
http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/Festivals_in_Israel.html”
“Week 7
Christianity
” “God created everything in his infinite wisdom
Creation was purposeful, not arbitrary, and therefore the universe is not morally neutral, but fundamentally good. In this purposeful creation, everything and everyone is intrinsically valuable. God’s design or purpose for creation reflects God’s intention that all creatures enjoy perfect love and justice.
http://www.patheos.com/Library/Christianity/Beliefs/Human-Nature-and-the-Purpose-of-Existence.html#ixzz3AhoV7O3f” “Very similar to the beliefs of Judaism he is the Supreme Being
http://www.godonthe.net/evidence/atribute.htm” “Fundamental to the Christian understanding of human nature is the belief that the first humans were created in the image of God
The nature people were created with was good (cf. Gen. 1:31), but according to the Bible people were given a free will with which to chose for God or against him, and in the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve were persuaded by the serpent to rebell and as a result sin entered the world (cf. Gen. 3:1-19) and afflicted the human race
http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/beliefs/human.htm” “Christians have faith in a good and loving Creator who has a plan for creation that is also good and loving. This tenet of faith has prompted Christians to seek explanations or justifications for suffering. Human suffering takes many forms: emotional, natural, and moral. Loneliness, anxiety, and grief are examples of emotional suffering. Fires, tornados, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunami, and physical illnesses (e.g., cancer) are examples of natural suffering. Moral suffering is brought on by the deliberate acts of fellow human beings to cause suffering, something Christians call a moral evil
http://www.patheos.com/Library/Christianity/Beliefs/Suffering-and-the-Problem-of-Evil.html” “Christians believe that by their trust and belief in the Holy Bible and Jesus Christ, the son of the Supreme Being they will reach salvation.
According to Christian belief, salvation is made possible by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, which in the context of salvation is referred to as the “atonement.”
http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/beliefs/salvation.htm” “Christian beliefs about the afterlife vary slightly between denominations and individual Christians, but the vast majority of Christians believe heaven is a place where believers go upon dying in order to enjoy the presence of God as well as other believers. In heaven, people are also freed from sin and all its various manifestation, like suffering and pain. The Bible teaches that heaven is an actual place (e.g. John 14:1-6). Life there will have some continuity with life in the present world (e.g. people will have bodies like they do now); yet in other ways, heaven will be different than this present life (e.g. people will have “new” bodies, cf. 1 Cor. 15:35-49).
Many Christians also believe that the Bible teaches the existence of hell as a place of judgment and punishment (e.g. 2 Pet. 2:4). In several New Testament passages, the description of hell includes fire (e.g. Mark 9:43, James 3:6). Some Christians interpret the imagery of fire literally and believe people will experience the sensation of burning forever. Other Christians believe the fire imagery is a symbolic way of communicating severe punishment. And although a minority view, still other Christians believe the description of fire is literal, but that the punishment people experience is temporary, like an object that is eventually destroyed by flames
Roman Catholics believe in purgatory, which is a temporary place of punishment for Christians who have died with unconfessed sins. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven”
http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/beliefs/afterlife.htm” “Many Christian rituals and religious practices vary between denomination, individual church and individual Christian, but some practices are common to virtually all forms of Christianity. Most Christians attend worship services at church on Sundays, which generally include singing, prayer and a sermon. Most Christian churches have a special ritual for ordination, or designating a person fit for a leadership position in the church. At home, most practicing Christians pray regularly and many read the Bible. (See Denomination Comparison Charts)
Nearly all Christians will have been baptized, either as an infant or as an adult, and regularly participate in communion (also called the Lord’s Supper and the Eucharist). Baptism and communion are considered sacraments – sacred rituals instituted by Christ himself. The Catholic Church recognizes five additional sacraments, as well as many other distinctive practices that are known as “sacramentals” or “devotions” and include praying the rosary and going on pilgrimages. Both Catholic and Orthodox Churches have religious orders. The most distinctive practice of Orthodoxy is the emphasis on icons, although Catholics use them as well. The cross is important to Christianity as well as Jesus Christ’s depiction of being hanged upon that cross.
http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/practices.htm” “ADVENT SEASON [mid-Nov/Dec] The Christian year begins with a period of preparation for Christmas. It is time also for looking towards Jesus’ second coming (Parousia). It is a season of expectation.
CHRISTMAS [25 Dec – Jan 6] Celebration of Jesus’ birth (Nativity); this festival emphasizes the INCARNATION [“the Word/Logos was made flesh and lived amongst us.”] The festival lasts twelve days and ends with the EPIPHANY [Jan. 6], the manifestation of God in Jesus, which celebrates Jesus’ baptism, the visit of the Magi [symbolic of Gentiles] to the infant Jesus, and Jesus’ first miracle when he turned water into wine at a wedding feast in Cana.
*LENT [March-April] Forty-day preparation for Easter. It corresponds to the 40 days Jesus spent fasting before beginning his ministry. This penitential season ends with:
HOLY WEEK begins with PALM SUNDAY, commemorating Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. HOLY [MAUNDY] THURSDAY commemorates the Last Supper and the institution of the Eucharist in Catholic, Orthodox and some Protestant churches. GOOD FRIDAY is the solemn memorial of Jesus’ death by crucifixion.
*EASTER SUNDAY [April] The greatest of Christian festivals celebrates the Resurrection. [Every Sunday is also a commemoration of the Resurrection.]
*ASCENSION THURSDAY [May] Forty days after Easter, this festival celebrates Jesus’ ascension to heaven.
*PENTECOST SUNDAY [WHITSUN] [May/June] Ten days after the Ascension [50 after Easter], this festival celebrates the gift of the Holy Spirit to the apostles and other disciples. It marks the birth of the Church.
* NB: The dates of Easter and, therefore, of Lent, Holy Week, Ascension and Pentecost vary each year. Easter’s date is determined by the Passover Full Moon, its extreme limits being 21 March and 25 April. There is variation among Christian communities in the method of determining the date. In Western Christianity it is the first Sunday after the full moon (of Nisan) that falls on or after 21 March.
http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/history/dfg/jesu/festxtn.htm
The feast days celebrate joyous historical events, such as the birth and resurrection of Christ, while the fast days provide a special opportunity to focus on self-reflection, self-discipline, and repentance. Some Christian holidays have come to have a considerable impact on western culture and traditions.
Brief History
Holidays have been a part of Christianity from the beginning, with Easter being the oldest.
Advent
The season of Advent (adventus, “coming”) marks the beginning of the church year and the approach of Christmas.
All Saints’ Day
Celebrating on the day after Halloween, the sacred day recalls the lives’ of Christian saints.
Ash Wednesday
The first day of Lent, a period of fasting that leads up to Easter. Its central ritual is placing of ashes on the forehead.
Assumption Day
Assumption Day celebrates the Roman Catholic belief of Mary’s transfer into heaven
Boxing Day
Celebrated in Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, this was when servants and the poor were traditionally given gifts.
Christmas
The celebration of the birth of Jesus. The English word “Christmas” derives from the old English Christes maesse, or “Christ’s mass.”
Also see Christmas trees
Easter
Easter is a spring festival that celebrates the resurrection of Christ. It is the oldest Christian holiday and the most important day of the church year.
Epiphany
The celebration of Epiphany (epiphaneia, “manifestation”) recalls the visit of the Magi, symbolizing Christ’s manifestation to Gentiles.
Good Friday
Good Friday is the annual Christian remembrance of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Lent
Lent is a 40-day period of fasting and repentance in preparation for Easter.
Mardi Gras
Celebrated on the last day before Lent, this is a day to enjoy one last feast before the 40-day fast.
Palm Sunday
Palm Sunday is the sixth Sunday of Lent and the last Sunday before Easter. It commemorates the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
Reformation Day
Reformation Day celebrates the Protestant Reformation.
St. Andrew’s Day
St. Andrew’s Day marks the martyrdom of the apostle Andrew, brother to Saint Peter, and is especially associated with Scottish identity.
St. Patrick’s Day
The Catholic feast day that honors St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, is celebrated worldwide by the Irish, those of Irish descent, or “Irish for a day.”
Sunday
In Christianity, the day of the week devoted to rest and worship is Sunday, or the “Lord’s Day.”
Thanksgiving
Celebrates a shared meal between Christian Pilgrims and Native Americans. It is not a religious holiday, but has an interesting, semi-religious history.
Twelfth Night
Made famous by the Shakespearean play, this marks the end of the Christmas season.
Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is a celebration of romantic love. Although associated with a saint, modern Valentine’s Day is a non-religious holiday.
http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/holidays.htm

“Week 8
Islam
” Allah, the supreme being created everything and everyone “Islam teaches that Allah, the one god, has 99 attributes. Although we can understand some of His attributes, His essence cannot be comprehended by a human’s limited mental capacity
http://www.al-islam.org/articles/nature-of-allah-yasir-al-wakeel
He is transcendent and not a part of his creation, and is most often referred to in terms and with names that emphasize his majesty and superiority. Among the 99 Beautiful Names of God (Asma al-Husna) in the Qur’an are: the Creator, the Fashioner, the Life-Giver, the Provider, the Opener, the Bestower, the Prevailer, the Reckoner, and the Recorder. Allah is a God of justice, who expects righteous behavior and submission to the divine will (the word Islam means “submission,” and a Muslim is literally “one who submits”) and punishes unrighteousness.
http://www.religionfacts.com/islam/beliefs/god.htm” “Humans are the greatest of all creatures, created with free will for the purpose of obeying and serving God
http://www.religionfacts.com/islam/beliefs/human.htm” “Islam offers a complete picture in explaining good and evil. To understand the Islamic teachings on good and evil, however, one first needs to understand that Islam views life as a test of deciding between good and evil. The Qur’an clearly states that God is the only authority in defining good and evil. Therefore our perceptions of good and evil may be misleading
The Islamic definitions of good and evil are based on the purposes of creation and the meaning of human life. As mentioned above, the ultimate goal of human life is to become perfected spiritually through belief in God (iman), the knowledge of God (marifatullah), the love of God (muhabbatullah), and the worship of God (ibada). Accordingly, whatever brings a person closer to God and will benefit him in the Next World is good, and whatever takes a person away from God, and thus incurs His anger is evil.
http://www.fountainmagazine.com/Issue/detail/Good-and-Evil-in-Islam
In Islam, God created good things and bad things and made them known to man through successive revelations, but He left it for human free will to use its power of choice to make its way between the two paths, and be responsible for the choice.
http://www.onislam.net/english/ask-about-islam/faith-and-worship/islamic-creed/168612-how-does-islam-view-the-nature-of-good-and-bad.html” “For a Muslim, the purpose of life is to live in a way that is pleasing to Allah so that one may gain Paradise. It is believed that at puberty, an account of each person’s deeds is opened, and this will be used at the Day of Judgment to determine his eternal fate. The Qur’an also suggests a doctrine of divine predestination. The Muslim doctrine of salvation is that unbelievers (kuffar, literally “those who are ungrateful”) and sinners will be condemned, but genuine repentance results in Allah’s forgiveness and entrance into Paradise upon death. The Qur’an teaches the necessity of both faith and good works for salvation
http://www.religionfacts.com/islam/beliefs/salvation.htm” Islam teaches the continued existence of the soul and a transformed physical existence after death. Muslims believe there will be a day of judgment when all humans will be divided between the eternal destinations of Paradise and Hell. Until the Day of Judgment, deceased souls remain in their graves awaiting the resurrection. However, they begin to feel immediately a taste of their destiny to come. Those bound for hell will suffer in their graves, while those bound for heaven will be in peace until that time. http://www.religionfacts.com/islam/beliefs/afterlife.htm “prayers, fasting and the pilgrimage. It is also common to hear about the various restrictions Islam imposes such as prohibition of alcohol and pork, and the requirement for women to dress modestly. The Muslim prayer is a combination of physical actions, verbal sayings, and an internal feeling in the heart. Muslims are required to be in a state of calmness, serenity and humbleness while performing their prayers. Once the prayer is started, a series of sayings and actions are performed. The sayings include reciting parts of the holy Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, as well as other sayings glorifying God and thanking Him for all of His blessings upon us. It also gives Muslims the opportunity to ask God for anything they desire. Muslims are required to pray at least five times every day, and are encouraged to pray extra prayers if they can. The required prayers have specific times that they are to be performed at. These are dawn, noon, mid afternoon, sunset and at night. Fasting means to refrain from having all kinds of food, drink and sexual intercourse from dawn to sunset. Muslims are required to fast during the month of Ramadan every year. Ramadan is a month based on the lunar cycle, as opposed to the solar calendar used today by most people. Therefore, the start and end of the month of Ramadan change each year according to the lunar cycles. Ramadan can be either 29 or 30 days. Muslims are also encouraged to fast on other optional days. It is viewed as a way to cleanse the soul of all worldly desires and devout oneself completely to the obedience of God. Pilgrimage: Also known as the Hajj, the pilgrimage is a physical and spiritual journey that every financially and physically able Muslim is expected to make at least once in their lifetime. Muslims travel to the holy city of Makkah, located in what is known today as Saudi Arabia, to perform the required rites of the pilgrimage. There, they are expected to spend their days in complete devotion to worship and to asking God for forgiveness and for anything else they wish to ask for. They also perform specific rituals, such as walking around the Kaaba, the black cube-shaped building located in Makkah. A very important aspect of Islam is giving charity to the poor. Muslims are required to give certain percentages of any type of wealth that they have accumulated. For example, Muslims must give 2.5% of the money they have saved each year. It is important to note that this is not based on income, it is based on savings. A small portion of the money that is sitting in the bank accounts of wealthy people and not helping anyone is used every year to help the poor. This ensures some re-distribution of wealth among Muslims. Before performing certain rituals, most importantly before prayers, Muslims are expected to perform a form of purification, known as ablution or “wudu” in Arabic. This involves washing the hands, face, arms and feet with water. Since Muslims are required to pray at least five times every day at various times throughout the day from dawn until the night, this ensures that Muslims maintain a high level of hygiene. Five Pillars of Islam
http://www.questionsaboutislam.com/faith-beliefs-practices/main-practices-rituals-of-islam.php” “Eid al-Fitr
Known as the “Feast of Breaking of the Fast” which marks the end of Ramadan. It falls on the first day of the next month, Shawwal and celebration lasts 3 days.
Eid al-Adha
Known as the “Feast of the Sacrifice” is the 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah. It is a commemoration of Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham)’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail (Ishmael) as an act of submission to Allah’s command and Ismail’s acceptance to being sacrificed. According to the story, despite being very sharp, the knife did not cut Ismail by following the command of Allah and great angel Jibreel (Gabriel) brought a ram to be sacrificed instead. Eid al-Adha celebrations last 4 days. Islamic New Year
It is the first day of Muharram, the first month in the Islamic calendar. The first Islamic year began in 610 AD with the Hijra of Prophet Muhammad and the first Muslims from Mecca to Medina. The Day of Ashura
Is the 10th day of Muharram. It is the day Prophet Noah’s ship landed on ground after The Flood. It is the day Red Sea was split off so that Prophet Musa and the believers escaped the Pharaoh and his army chasing them. It is also the day where Allah accepted the tawba (repentance) of the peoples of Prophet Adam and Prophet Yusuf (Joseph).
Day of Arafa
It is the 9th day of the month Dhu al-Hijjah -the last month in the Islamic Calendar). It is also the second day of Hajj. The next day is the first day of Eid al-Adha.
Laylat al-Qadr
Known as The Night of Power, The Night of Destiny as well. First verses of the Quran were revealed to prophet Muhammad in this night. It is in the last 10 days of Ramadan however exact day is not known. It is the most important night in Islam. Surat Al-Qadr describes its importance.
Laylat al Raghaib
It is the first Friday night of month Rajab. According to some scholars, it is the night where Prophet Muhammad’s mother realized she was pregnant.
Laylat al Bara’at
It is the 15th night of the month of Sha’aban. It is known as Shab-e-barat as well. According to some scholars, Quran was brought to the earth’s heaven from Lawh Al-Mahfuz (Protected tablets where everything is written).
Laylat al Mi’raj
It is the night Prophet Muhammad ascended to the Jannah (Paradise). The part journey from Mecca to Jerusalem is called Isra and Mi’raj is the second part of the journey where Prophet Muhammad was ascended to Allah’s presence and to Jannah. Salah (daily prayers) became mandatory after this journey.
Alvida Jumma
It is the last Friday in Ramadan. Every Friday is a mubarak (blessed) day for Muslims including the last Friday of Ramadan.
Going to mazaar (graveyards) is a Sunnah. The intention must be to remind ourselves death and Akhirah (afterlife). Quran can be read for the deceased. You can also pray for the deceased.
Mawlid Al Nabi
Known as Eid-e-Milad-un-Nabi or Barafawat as well. It is the celebration of birthday of Prophet Muhammad. Imam Suyutî had called it as a bidat-i haseenah (a good innovation).
Kheer Puri Niyaaz
It is a Shia tradition, Sunnis do not and should not celebrate it. It is based on a fabricated story “of a woodcutters’ wife praying on the 22nd of Rajab due to the economical hardships in addition to her husband being far away from her trying to make money”. http://www.whatisislamabout.com/islamic/islamic-festivals-important-days-celebrations/
As Muslims, we celebrate only two ‘eid (festivals): ‘eid ul-fitr (after the end of Ramadhan), and ‘eid ul-Udh-ha, the day of the greater hajj (pilgrimage). During these two festivals, we offer felicitations, spread joy, and entertain children. But more importantly, we offer remembrance of Allaah’s blessings, celebrate His name and offer the ‘eid salaat (prayer). Other than these two occasions, we do not recognize or celebrate any other days in the year.
Of course, there are other joyous occasions for which the Islamic shari’ah dictates appropriate celebration, such as gathering for special meals during weddings or on the occasion of the birth of a child (aqeeqah). However, these days are not specified as particular days in the year; rather, they are celebrated as they happen in the course of a Muslim’s life. http://islamqa.info/en/486”
“Week 9
Sikhism
” “The Sikh tradition was founded by Guru Nanak in the late 15th century C.E. in the Punjab region of what are today India and Pakistan. According to Sikh beliefs, the same revelatory spirit inhabited Guru Nanak and his nine successors. Today, this spirit can be found in the teachings of the Guru Granth Sahib, the foundational scripture of the Sikh tradition.
Read more: http://www.patheos.com/Library/Sikhism.html#ixzz3CVHDbHxS” The concept of God in Sikhism is uncompromisingly panentheistic, as symbolized by “Ik Onkar”(one Creator), a central tenet of Sikh philosophy. Sikhs believe that the Creator is all pervasive and is the only truth, that all creation is illusory and the route to enlightenment is the realisation that all creation is One. Sikhs perceive human life as an opportunity to merge with the divine will. However, the core problem is that human judgment is occluded by a false sense of self. http://www.patheos.com/Library/Sikhism/Beliefs/Human-Nature-and-the-Purpose-of-Existence.html Evil only exists when people place themselves at the center of everything by being selfish, but good exists because their sould is believe to be a part of the divine world of the higher being. In Guru Nanak’s conception, worldly actions, no matter the religious allegiances, are accounted for by a divine process beyond human understanding. Those who have lived good lives, whether Sikhs or non-Sikhs, have nothing to fear hereafter. http://www.patheos.com/Library/Sikhism/Beliefs/Afterlife-and-Salvation.html The Sikh tradition emphasizes a life free of worry about the afterlife, but focused on one’s ethical actions and piety in this life. “Liberation” (mukti) is the metaphor for the best result possible in the afterlife, and Sikhs envision that as finding unification with the creator at his court. Doing well in the cycle of birth and death (“coming and going,” or reincarnation) have brought about the specific human life that must now use the opportunity to reach the divine court. That is to say, the Sikh belief system combines the idea of “reincarnation” (which brings a human life) with the idea of an afterlife in a paradise-like court of God. http://www.patheos.com/Library/Sikhism/Beliefs/Afterlife-and-Salvation.html “The Sikh is required to undertake the following observances:
Wake up early in the morning.
Bathing and cleansing of the body should be performed.
Cleanse the mind by meditating on God!
Engage in family life and address your responsibilities within the family.
Attend to a work or study routine and earn a living by earnest means.
Undertake to help the less well off with monetary and/or physical help.
Exercise your responsibilities to the community and take active part in the maintenance and safeguard of the community. Wear the 5Ks
Kesh – long and uncut hair and a turban to protect the hair on the head.
Kanga – small comb to be used twice daily to keep the hair in clean and healthy condition.
Kacchera – worn in the form of shorts to exercise self-control.
Kara – a steel slave bangle on the dominant arm to remind the Sikh to always remember the Guru before undertaking any action.
Kirpan – a short, often dagger-sized sword to remind the Sikh that he is to defend against repression of the weak.
Meditate by reciting his Gurbani and by singing his Kirtan (music based hymns) and remember Him always.
Wash your mind clean with Sewa, selfless service to the community by doing manual work at the Gurdwara by cleaning the dishes, washing the floors, painting the walls; working in Community Centres; in old peoples homes, etc.
Practice Truth at all times: To live by the Gurus instruction to practice Truth thus: “Those who practice Truth reap the profits, abiding in the Will of God. With the Merchandise of Truth, they meet the Guru, who does not have a trace of greed. (6)” (SGGS page 59 (2)) and also “O Siblings of Destiny, follow the Guru’s Teachings and dwell in truth. Practice truth, and only truth, and merge in the True Word of the Shabad. ||1||Pause||” (SGGS page 30 (3))
Be kind and merciful to others: Kindness is a virtue that the Sikh have been asked to exercise at all times. The Gurus have shown on many occasion how to practise and live a life of kindness and mercy and have the following message for the keen devotee: “Become ‘Jivan-Mukta’, liberated while yet alive, by meditating on the Lord of the Universe, O mind, and maintaining faith in Him in your heart. Show kindness and mercy to all (sentient) beings, and realize that the Lord is pervading everywhere; this is the way of life of the enlightened soul, the supreme swan. ||7||” (SGGS page 508 (4))
Become a Gurmukh by doing Good deeds: The Sikh Gurus repeatedly ask the dedicated Sikh to always do good deeds as shown by this verse from the Guru Granth Sahib – “The Gurmukh practices doing good deeds; thus he comes to understand this mind. The mind is like an elephant, drunk with wine. The Guru is the rod which controls it, and shows it the way. Organise Gurdwaras: As a community Sikhs set up local places of worship called Gurdwara. Services are held in the morning and evening including:
Asa-di-war kirtan
Sukhmani sahib paath
Akhand Paath
Ardas and Hukamnama
Kirtan programs
Naming Ceremony
Marriage Ceremony
Antam Sanskar
Amrit Sanskar, etc.” “Nam Karan, Naming of a Child
As soon as the mother and child are able to travel, the family visits the Gurdwara. There they recite joyful hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib to celebrate the birth of the new child. Karah Prashad (sacred pudding) is prepared by the family. Amrit (sweet water) is also prepared and given to the infant as well as the mother. The name is chosen by taking the Hukam, the granthi randomly opens Sri Guru Granth Sahib to any page and reads the hymn on that page. The first letter of the first word of the hymn is chosen. The child’s name is than chosen beginning with that letter and is announced to the congregation.
Amrit Sanskar, Baptism
This is the sacred ceremony for the initiation into the Khalsa brotherhood. It should be taken only by those who are fully mature enough to realize the commitment required and the significance. The initiate may be a man or woman of any caste or previous religion. Generally they are encouraged to start behaving, acting and looking like a Sikh before seeking baptism. The baptism is done in a quiet place away from distractions where Sri Guru Granth Sahib has been installed. The initiate is required to wash their hair, cover their head, wear clean clothes and the 5K’s before presenting themselves before 6 amritdhari Sikhs (those who are already baptized). Five amritdhari Sikhs will conduct the ceremony while one reads Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The principals of Sikhism are explained to the initiate and this is followed by Ardas and taking of the Hukam (opening of Sri Guru Granth Sahib to a random page and reading of a hymn). Amrit (sweet sugar water) is prepared in a steel bowl and stirred with a kirpan by the five beloved ones while Japuji, Jaap, Ten Sawayyas, Bainti Chaupai and 6 verses from Anand Sahib are recited. This is followed by Ardas and the initiate drinking the amrit five times in cupped hands and exclaiming Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh (The Pure Belong to God, Victory to God). Amrit is then sprinkled on the hair and eyes of the initiate and any leftover is drunk by all present. This is followed by an explanation of the code of conduct and discipline required for a Khalsa. The Khalsa is required to wear the 5K’s and abstain from 1) cutting hair, 2) eating Muslim halal meat, 3) cohabiting with a person other than ones spouse and 4) using intoxicants such as tobacco. Other breaches of the code of conduct are also explained before Ardas is once again repeated. This is followed by taking Hukam and eating of karah prasad (sacred pudding) from a common bowl. If a person does not have a Sikh name, they take a new name at this time.
Funeral Ceremony
In Sikhism death is considered a natural process and God’s will. Any public displays of grief at the funeral such as wailing or crying out loud are discouraged. Cremation is the preferred method of disposal, although if it is not possible any other method such as burial or submergence at sea are acceptable. Worship of the dead with gravestones, etc. is discouraged, because the body is considered to be only the shell, the person’s soul is their real essence. The body is usually bathed and clothed by family members and taken to the cremation grounds. There hymns are recited which induce feeling of detachment are recited by the congregation. As the body is being cremated, Kirtan Sohila the nighttime prayer is recited and Ardas is offered. The ashes are disposed of by immersing them in the nearest river. A non continuos reading of the entire Sri Guru Granth Sahib is undertaken and timed to conclude on the tenth day. This may be undertaken at home or in the Gurdwara. The conclusion of this ceremony marks the end of the mourning period.
Akhand Path
This is the non-stop cover to cover reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib which is undertaken to celebrate any joyous occasion or in times of hardship, such as birth, marriage, death, moving into a new house, and Gurpurbs. The non stop reading takes approximately 48 hours and is carried out be family members, or professional readers in the presence of the family. The reading must be clear and correct so that it can be understood by all listeners. After the completion of the reading the Bhog ceremony takes place. A Hukam is taken by randomly turning to any page and reading the hymn on that page. Karah parshad (sacred pudding) is also distributed to all present.
This ceremony evolved in the mid 18th century when there were few hand written copies of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhs were fighting for their lives at this time and hiding in jungles. They would all gather to hear whatever portion of a reading that they could before Sri Guru Granth Sahib would me moved to another location for another audience. Performance of Akhand Path as a blind ritual is highly disrespectful to Sri Guru Granth Sahib and contrary to the teachings of the Gurus.
Gurpurbs
Important anniversaries associated with the lives of the Gurus are referred to as Gurpurbs. These are usually marked at gurdwaras with Akand Path (continuos cover to cover reading of Sri Guru Granth Sahib) concluding on the specific day. There is also kirtan (musical recitation of hymns from Sri Guru Granth Sahib) as well as katha (lectures on Sikhism). Some places also have nagar kirtan, where there is a procession with Sri Guru Granth Sahib led by 5 Sikhs carrying Nishan Sahibs (the Sikh flag). Free sweets and langar are also offered to the general public outside some gurdwaras.
Among the larger Gurpurb celebrations are:
First installation of Sri Guru Granth Sahib in the Golden Temple by Guru Arjan Dev
Birth of Guru Nanak (traditionally celebrated in November)
Birth of Guru Gobind Singh
Martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev
Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur
Martyrdom of The Sahibzadas (the sons of Guru Gobind Singh)
Vaisakhi
Guru Amar Das first institutionalized this as one of the special days when all Sikhs would gather to receive the Gurus blessings at Goindwal in 1567. In 1699 Guru Gobind Singh gathered thousands at Anandpur Sahib and founded the Khalsa order by baptizing 5 brave Sikhs who were willing to give their life for the Guru. The Five Beloved Ones in turn baptized Guru Gobind Singh into the Khalsa brotherhood. This day celebrated around April 13 is considered the birthday of the Khalsa order. Sikhs visits gurdwaras and fairs and parades are held. Many Sikhs choose to be baptized into the Khalsa brotherhood on this day, as well the wrappings of the Nishan Sahib flag post at most gurdwaras are changed on Vaisakhi.
Note: Vaisakhi is not the Sikh New Year. Vaisakhi occurs in the second month of the Sikh calendar. The Sikh New Year is on Chet 1 according to the Sikh calendar which occurs on March 14th every year. See the Sikh Calendar for more information
Bandi Chhor Divasi
On Bandi Chhor Divas 1619 the Golden Temple was illuminated with many lights to welcome home and celebrate the release of Guru Hargobind from imprisonment in Gwalior fort. Sikhs have continued this annual celebration with lamps being lit outside gurdwaras and sweets distributed to all. The largest gathering happens at The Golden Temple which is lit up with thousands of lights.
Maghi
Sikhs visit gurdwaras and listen to kirtan on this day to commemorate the martyrdom of the Forty Immortals. The largest gathering happens at Muktsar where an annual fair is held. It occurs on the first day of Maghar Sangrant, around January 14. Forty followers of Guru Gobind Singh who had previously deserted him, fought bravely against overwhelming Mughal army forces and were martyred here. Guru Gobind Singh personally blessed them as having achieved mukti (liberation) and cremated them at Muktsar.
Hola Mohalla
An annual festival of thousands held at Anandpur Sahib. It was started by Guru Gobind Singh as a gathering of Sikhs for military exercises and mock battles on the day following the Indian festival of Holi. The mock battles were followed by music and poetry competitions. The Nihang Singh’s carry on the martial tradition with mock battles and displays of swordsmanship and horse riding. There are also a number of durbars where Sri Guru Granth Sahib is present and kirtan and religious lectures take place. The festival culminates in a large parade headed by the nishan sahibs of the gurdwaras in the region. Hola Mohalla is held around March 17.
Sangrand
This is the time when the sun passes from one sign of the zodiac to the next, it is the start of the new month in the Indian calendar. The beginning of the new month is announced in the gurdwaras by the reading of portions of Bara Maha, Song of the 12 Months, by Guru Arjan (pg. 133) or sometimes Bara Maha by Guru Nanak (pg. 1107). This day just marks the beginning of the new month and is not treated as being greater or better than any other day. http://www.sikhs.org/fest.htm”
“Week 10
Modern
Religions” There is a higher being of some form Most believe that God is a higher being that is benevolent and all seeing Most believe that human nature is that of a multitude of choices in life and choices are made based on one’s beliefs Most modern religions believe that good and evil exist everywhere, and choices are where we make the choice between good and evil based on our life’s choices Salvation can be achieved in most of these religions by attempting to live a modest, humble life and doing as much good as possible. Afterlife is extremely varied amongst these religions. Some do not believe and others believe in a place similar to the heaven described in Christianity and some also believe in a hell like place Practices and rituals are very different from religion to religion. Some believe in meditation, smoking marijuana, wearing certain colors, etc. The celebrations are small and commonly unheard of.
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