A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

Water Splashing Festival (Pō shuǐ jié, 泼水节). Start of important annual Chinese Dai ethnic minority of Xishuangbanna Prefecture of Yunnan province in southwestern China 3-day festival to 15 April during New Year celebrations on Dai calendar, commemorating the victory over a water demon that had kidnapped 7 young sisters. The 1st 2 days’ activities are on the banks of the Lancang River, a grand celebration on the 1st day normally having an open-air market for New Year shopping, with local food, sand sculptures and a dragon boat race. By night, river lanterns are floated, an old Chinese tradition to send away bad luck and bring good luck. The 3rd day climax is for water splashing after assembling at the Buddhist temple in ones best clothes to hear the monks chant Buddhist scriptures and the ritual of Bathing a Buddha statue ceremoniously coaxed out of the temple. This is followed by worshippers’ mutual water-splashing in the streets using pots, pans and bottles and reminiscent of a snowball fight. Water is regarded by the Dai as a symbol of religious purification and goodwill to all, so splashing another person is to wish good luck and prosperity. In contrast, in Spanish-speaking countries, instead of Friday Tuesday the 13th (martes trece) is considered a day of bad luck and Greek Tuesdays (especially the 13th) are unlucky days under the influence of Ares (Roman Mars) the war god. Image: © 1998-2021 China Highlights. Songkran Festival (เทศกาลสงกรานต์). Similar traditional Theravada Buddhist South and Southeast Asian solar New Year’s Day celebration to 15 April observed by Thais and Malaysian Siamese, from the Sanskrit sakrānti (संक्रान्ति, monthly astrological passage) for transformation or change. Again, containers of water with fragrant herbs are thrown as a symbol of washing away all that is evil. Coinciding with the astrological rising of Aries, the New Year is at virtually the same time in China, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Nepal, Bangladesh, India and Sri Lanka. Image: Vecteezy.

Vaisakhi (Baisakhi). Significant international Sikh festival commemorating the Punjabi solar New Year 1699 coining of Sikhism by the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh Ji at Anandpur Sahib in the Punjab and the formalisation of the faith practices of Khalsa (ਖ਼ਾਲਸਾ, pure, clear, free) by baptising 5 Sikhs with different social backgrounds from different parts of India. The holy 5 (Panj Piare, Pure Ones) then baptised Gobind Singh ji into the baptised Khalsa community. Thus, the Amrit Sanskar ceremony of initiation was introduced, with baptised Sikhs taking new names and the 5 Ks. Sikh men take the name Singh (lion) and women Kaur (princess). The Ks are: Kesh (uncut hair); Kangha (a wooden comb); Kara (an iron bracelet); Kachera (a cotton tieable undergarment); and Kirpan (an iron dagger). Vaisakhi is also a harvest festival predating the c1500 Sikh faith, Guru Nanak having begun teaching a faith distinct from Hinduism and Islam. This 1st day of the month of Vaisakha is dedicated to the Hindu and Sikh community spirit and forward-thinking as well as practising spiritual and physical integration. There are normally visits to the Gurdwara, the chanting of scriptures and hymns, Amrit Sanskar baptism for new Khalsa, and ritual bathing, fairs, colourful parades, music, dancing and singing throughout the day. Simultaneous celebrations include: the Hindu Ugadi (the beginning of a new age) on Chaitra Shudhdha Paadyami (the 1st day of the bright half of the Indian month of Chaitra); the Gudhi Padwa springtime festival that marks the traditional New Year for Marathi and Konkani Hindus; and the UgadiTelugu New Year in the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Image: sikhchannel.tv.

Prayer As we watch the flag that has flown for a past year lowered and remember that year and clean the flagpole, we start with fresh souls for the New Year as the new flag is raised. We eat in the Gurdwara and then return to our family homes looking forward to our New Year in our sacred Khalsa community. We bow to the Guru Granth Sahib. 

Pope St Martin I (Martinus I, Martin the Confessor) (c595-655). Feast Day on the formal anniversary of his death for noble Umbrian Bishop of Rome who had alleviated the distress of the inhabitants of Dalmatia and Istria ad rescued captives seized during the invasion of the Slavs. He was the only Pope during the Eastern Roman domination of the papacy whose election was not approved by an imperial mandate from Constantinople. For his strong opposition to Monothelitism, a heresy that held that Christ did not have a human as well as divine will, Martin was arrested by soldiers whilst lying sick in front of his altar in the Lateran basilica, carried off to Constantinople to spend 6 months in a filthy, freezing cell, illegally condemned for treason, and exiled to a hostile Crimea where he died 2 years later. Martin was a member of the order of St. Basil, of great charity to the poor, and a martyr who stood up for the right of the Church to establish doctrine even in the face of imperial power. Venerated in Catholic, Eastern Orthodox Churches. Feast Day in Byzantine-rite Churches 14 April, as glorious definer of the Orthodox Faith, sacred chief of divine dogmas, unstained by error, true reprover of heresy, foundation of bishops, and defender of the Church. Image: angelusnews.com.