A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Loy Krathong (Night of the Festival of Lights). Buddhist floating lantern festival in Thailand. On the evening of the full moon of the twelfth Thai lunar month, people gather to release Krathongs (floating rafts) onto rivers, lakes, canals or the sea to offer thanks to Ganga (Phra Mae Khongkha, พระแม่คงคา), the Hindu Goddess of Water. They seek Her forgiveness, whilst worshipping the spirits of the water and wishing for and seeking good fortune. The Krathongs are degradable baskets filled with carefully-folded banana leaves, incense sticks, a candle and sometimes a coin. Celebrated in most village and town temples across Thailand, the festival often coincides with a temple’s Kathina Day at the end of the greatest alms-giving ceremony of the Buddhist year. Observed in Thailand, northern Malaysia, Laos (as Boun That Luang), Myanmar (as Tazaungdaing), Sri Lanka (as Il Poya) and China (as Xishuangbanna Lantern Festival). The festival marks the end of the main rice harvest and people thank the Water Goddess for the year’s abundant supply, whilst symbolically floating away accumulated anger and bitterness, a fingernail clipping or a lock of hair in the Krathong being seen as a way of letting go of the dark side of oneself to start again free of negative feelings. Image: holidayscalendar.com.
Guru Nanak Jayanti (Guru Nanak Gurpurab). One of the most sacred annual Sikh festivals (utsab), a celebration (gurpurb) commemorating the anniversary of the birth of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism and the first of the ten human gurus holy to Sikhism. He was born in the Punjab in 1469 and Sikhs celebrate with kathas (homilies), prayers, hymns (kirtan) about his life and readings from the Guru Granth Sahib (Holy Book). Free sweets and community meals (langar) are normally offered to everyone at the gurdwara (door to the guru, place of assembly and worship), which is lit up for the festivities, along with the houses. Although Guru Nanak was born in April, his birth anniversary is generally celebrated on the full moon day of the lunar month of Kartik and it is observed by all Sikhs on this day, whether they observe the Bakrami lunar calendar or the more recent Nanakshahi one. As is the case with all other gurpurbs, an akhand path (a complete, unbroken reading of the Guru Granth Sahib) commences two days earlier so that it ends on the morning of the festival. The washing and redressing of the nishan flag and flagpole erected outside each gurdwara may take place. It is believed by Sikhs that all subsequent Gurus carried the same message as that of Guru Nanak and so they all used the name Nanak in their holy texts instead of their own names and all are understood to carry the divine Light of Nanak. Although each of the ten human Gurus shares a common nature and equal honour, Guru Nanak is fêted as the one who initiated the Sikh tradition and determined its direction for the future. His creativity and humanity became landmarks for those who follow his example. Image: thedivineindia.com.
Prayer O Nanak, God is One. His Name Is Truth, Creative Being, without Fear, without Hatred. He never dies. He is Beyond Birth, Self-Existent. By The Guru’s Grace, The Truth is Obtained. God was True in the beginning and in the Primal Age. He is True now Also. True Shall God be Forever. Ek-Onkar
St Nerses (Nerses I the Great, Սուրբ Ներսես Ա. Մեծ) (d373). Feast Day for the royal Armenian Catholicos (Patriarch) in a new era in Armenian history, when he brought the church into closer communion with the people, to be less identified with the royal family and the nobles. He promulgated numerous laws on marriage, fast days and liturgical celebrations, built schools and hospitals and sent monks throughout the land to preach the Gospel. Some of his reforms displeased the king and he was exiled but continued to lead the Armenian church. Upon the accession of a pro-Arian king, Nerses returned to his see and forbade the entry to the church of that dissolute and unworthy ruler. Under the pretence of seeking reconciliation, the king invited Nerses to his table and poisoned him. Venerated in Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox Churches, Anglican Communion. Patron of Armenia. Image: hyetert.org.