Mid summer does not have many major religious festivals from Christianity and Judaism. But July does have a lot going on. Here is a glance.
Martyrdom of the Bab, Baha’i
Bahaism is a religion started in the 1800s in Iran, growing from Babism. The Bab’s martyrdom is a major holy day.
The Bab was a religious leader in Persia. In 1850, Persian leaders, who did not approve of the Bab’s teachings, decided to execute him.
This holy day is marked by rest and includes special prayers read at noon, the scheduled time of the execution.
Mizra Husayn-Aiwas, an early follower of the Bab, took the name Bahá’u’lláh, sometimes spelled Baha Ullah, which means Glory of God and proclaimed himself the prophet predicted by the Bab and established the Baha’i faith.
The main belief of Baha’i is that humanity, religion and society should be one. To achieve this, it is said, one should abandon prejudice, treat genders equally, make education universal and establish a world federation.
Obon (Ulambana), Buddhist/Shinto
Obon is when Buddhists and those who practice Shinto honor their ancestors. Calendar differences mean that some regions hold the festival in August. The August dates are a time of heavy travel because of the holiday. Lanterns are hung to guide their spirits home. Dances, gravesite visits, fireworks and offerings are part of the celebration.
People visit cemeteries to wash family headstones. Houses are cleaned, and special altars are set up for the holiday. Many people visit others, especially extended family. A special temple service allows people to make offerings to “unfortunate spirits.”
Emperor Haile Selassie birthday, Rastafarian
On Nov. 2, 1930, Ras Tafari Makonnen was crowned Emperor Haile Selassie I in Ethiopia.
A leader of the Universal Negro Improvement Association in 1930 told followers to look to Africa, where a Black king would be crowned, and that king would be the redeemer. Soon after, Selassie was crowned and many people looked to him as divine, leading to Rastafarianism.
Its association with ska and reggae as well as its followers moving to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom led to the religion spreading from Jamaica and the Caribbean.
Rastafarianism has never been a monolithic religion. Rastas draw from many ideas, including Black superiority, trying to return to the homeland of Africa, mysticism, Christianity and, in some circles, the use of marijuana. Because the religion grew from former slaves who were taught Christianity by slave owners, many Rastas say the King James Version is corrupted.
Pioneer Day, Mormon
On July 24, the Mormons mark the day in 1847 that leader Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers entered Utah’s Salt Lake Valley. The group left Illinois seeking freedom from persecution. The day was first celebrated in 1849 and is a state holiday.
Church leaders had discussed a move West since 1842 because of persistent persecution that included buildings being destroyed.
Asalha Puja Day (Dhamma Day), Buddhism
Also known as Dhamma Day, this is when Buddhists commemorate the first teaching by Buddha. It usually falls in July. Dharma can be translated to truth and is the term for the path to enlightenment.
Siddhartha Gautama lived in India in the mid-500s B.C. He left his rich family to seek a better lifestyle and eventually created a philosophical system that teaches that right-thinking and self-denial will enable the soul to reach Nirvana.
He set forth the basics of Buddhism in his first sermon, teaching extremes in life should be avoided.
SOURCES: interfaith-calendar.org/2022.htm, bahai-ottawa.org/upcoming_events_holy_days.html, www.us.bahai.org/, World Book; Webster’s New World Dictionary; Ways We Worship, William McElreth; The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion, Jonathan Z. Smith; The Perennial Dictionary of World Religion, Keith Crim; Encyclopedia Britannica; www.japan-guide.com/e/e2286.html; timeanddate.com/holidays/us/pioneer-day; www.britannica.com/topic/Rastafari; www.history.com/topics/religion/history-of-rastafarianism; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Press Book; www.learnreligions.com/latter-day-saints-4684874; thebuddhistcentre.com; www.bbc.co.uk