A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Vat Purnima Vrat (Vat Savitri Vrat). Celebration observed in Maharashtra and Karnataka, an auspicious day in southern India on the full moon day (Purnima), the fifteenth of the month of Jyeshtha in the Hindu Amanta lunar calendar. This Vrat (pious observance) is one of the most significant vrats observed by married women for the longevity of their husbands and for the wellbeing of the family. The day honours the dedication of Savitri, who saved her husband Satyavan from the clutches of Yamaraja, the god of death. Lord Narad Muni had warned her that Satyavan was destined to die within a year but she laid his body under a Banyan tree. When Yamaraja came for his soul, Savitri pleaded with and praised him and he left Satyavan to live. Savitri circled the Banyan tree and Satyavan awoke. Women thus worship Vat, the Banyan tree, and treat it as a symbol of Trimurti-Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh. Puja flowers or fruit offerings are made under the Banyan tree or to its image and idols of Satyavan and Savitri, with special dishes made at home being offered to the Banyan tree and chanting and the winding of yellow and red thread around it. Women also donate food and clothes to the poor. Image: dritpancham.com.
The Nativity of the Venerable and Glorious Prophet and Forerunner John the Baptist (Johannistag). Orthodox Christian Celebration of the birth of late First Century BCE Jewish itinerant preacher, the Immerser in some Baptist traditions as he baptised Jesus in the river Jordan. and the prophet John (Yaḥya) in Islam. He was greater than all those born of women, the Prophet who received God’s testimony and surpassed all other Prophets, being born of the aged and barren Elizabeth, which filled all his kinsmen with gladness and wonder. But even more wondrous was what followed on the eighth day when he was circumcised, the day on which a male child receives his name. Those present called him Zacharias, the name of his father, but the mother said: “Not so, but he shall be called John,” Johanan meaning Yahweh is Gracious. His mute father wrote: “His name is John,” at which his tongue was loosed to bless the God of Israel, Who had fulfilled the promises made to their fathers and had visited those sitting in darkness and the shadow of death, sending to them the light of salvation. Zacharias prophesied that the child would be a Prophet of the Most High and the Forerunner of Jesus Christ. The Feast and commemoration of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist is celebrated with the Divine Liturgy of Saint John Chrysostom, which is conducted on the morning of the Feast and preceded by a daybreak Orthros (ὄρθρος, Оўтреня) service. This is a Feast endowed with a Vigil (παννυχίς), a period of purposeful sleeplessness for devotional watching or observance on the eve of a major religious festival, the celebration of Christian liturgical feasts beginning on the evening before. The Early Church continued the Jewish practice of beginning the day at sunset rather than midnight and Great Vespers evening prayer may be conducted on the evening before the day of the Feast. On this Feast Day, the Orthodox Church also commemorates Elizabeth, the mother of St John the Baptist. 24 June is the Lutheran Lesser Festival of The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist. Pa Puul (Breaking Pots) is a Yucatec Maya, Mexican 24 June festival to petition for rain or express gratitude for a bountiful harvest, the offerings and ceremonies being rooted in the millennia-old reciprocal relationship between the Maya and their land and the growing cycle of corn. St John the Baptist, Weston-super-Mare is a Church of England and John is the patron of: Jordan, Puerto Rico, the Knights Hospitaller of Jerusalem, French Canada, Newfoundland, Cesena, Florence, Genoa, Monza, Perth, Scotland, Porto, San Juan, Turin, Xewkija. Image: iconandlight.wordpress.com.
Prayer O Prophet and Forerunner of the presence of Christ, we who fervently honour you cannot worthily praise you. For by your revered and glorious birth she that once was barren doth today bring forth Christ’s Forerunner and the muteness of your father is unbound for the incarnation of the Son of God to be proclaimed to the world. For when he, in River Jordan, laid his hand on Him Whom the Prophets preached aforetime, he was revealed as God the Word’s forechosen Prophet, His mighty preacher, and His Forerunner in grace. Amen
Midsummer’s Day. Traditional European date for the middle of the growing season, halfway between planting and harvest. The second English Quarter Day since the Gregorian calendar was adopted by Britain and all its possessions at the start of the year 1752 on 25 March, the first time the year ended on 31 December. Before the change of calendars, Midsummer’s Day fell on 5 July. In England the legal calendar Quarter Days are 25 March (Lady Day), 24 June (Midsummer Day), 29 September (Michaelmas Day) and 25 December (Christmas Day). The Midsummer celebration predates Christianity but the Christian Church in the Fourth Century designated June 24 as the Feast Day for the Birth of the early Christian martyr St John the Baptist, recorded as being six months before the birth of Jesus. In Florence, Medieval midsummer celebrations were an occasion for dramatic representations of the Baptist’s life and death and in Cologne women rinsed their hands and arms in the Rhine to wash away calamities for the coming year. The observance of St John’s Day begins the evening before on St John’s Eve in many Christian denominations, including the Roman Catholic and Lutheran Churches and the Anglican Communion, as well as in freemasonry. In Sweden, there have been proposals to make the Midsummer’s Eve the National Day of Sweden instead of 6 June. The lighting of festive fires on St John’s Eve was a popular custom from the early Twelfth Century and in Winchcombe, Gloucestershire fire-wheels were rolled downhill to drive away dragons that were poisoning springs and wells. Image: legendarydartmoor.co.uk.