A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths

Rama Navami. One of the most important Hindu festivals, celebrating the birth in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh of Lord Rama, the 7th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, on the 9th day of the month of Chaitra, the 1st month in the Hindu lunar calendar. Lord Rama (Maryada Purusottama) is revered for his prosperous and righteous reign. Rama Navami signifies the victory of good over evil and the establishment of the concept of Dharma to combat Adharma. At noon, an arti worship ritual with light from a flame is offered before an image of the deity with songs of praise and the recital of Rama Katha stories. Rama signifies stopping, standing still, resting, rejoicing and being pleased to follow the path Lord Rama trod, the ideal he held aloft and the ordinance he laid down, as they are eternal and timeless. Greeting is Happy Rama Navami! Image: pinterest.com.

Prayer On the auspicious occasion of the birth of Lord Rama, may he shower his blessings on all of us and on our families, wishing us all joy, harmony and prosperity. May the divine grace of Lord Rama be with us all for a very happy and prosperous Rama Navami. Mubarak ho aapko Rama Navami ka tyohar

Adar Mah Parab. Zoroastrian Shenshai-Parsi celebration of the birth of fire on the 9th day of Azar, the 9th of the 12 months of 30 days in the Shenshai Calendar. Zoroastrians visit the fire temple to make offerings of fragrant sandalwood or incense to Adar, the Divinity that presides over fire, and to thank the holy fire for the warmth and light it has given throughout the year. Traditionally, food is not cooked in the home on this day, as the fire is not used and the Atash Niyayeesh litany to fire is recited in honour of the house fire or a ceremonial oil lamp. 9 is a sacred number in several religious traditions and the Prophet Zarathustra is often depicted holding a 9-knotted Navgar stick. Among Hindus, 9 is the number of Brahma, the Creator of the Universe. For Christians, 9 symbolises divine completeness and conveys the meaning of finality, Christ having died on the Cross at the 9th hour of the day to bring salvation to all. Although in the Old Testament God created this world in 6 days and rested on the 7th, in Zoroastrian cosmogony Ahura Mazda created the world in 6 stages (Gahambars), creating the sky, water, earth, vegetation, animals and finally man. What then animated them was fire, the life-giving force. From a Zoroastrian perspective, fire is both a giver of light and a giver of life, neither darkness nor evil having an existence of their own, darkness being the absence of light and evil the absence of good. Fire dispels darkness and evil is dispelled each time one chooses to think, speak or perform a good deed. When a Zarathushti prays before fire, they are in essence offering worship to Ahura Mazda through Fire. Image:parsi-times.com.

Groundation Day. Important Rastafarian annual spring Holy Day, a celebration to honour the 1966 day that Haile Selassie I triumphantly visited Jamaica, the only time that the Emperor went to the island and when 100,000 Jamaican Rastafari greeted the man they considered to be God. Selassie refused to walk on the red carpet and thus made contact with the soil (Groundation). Bob Marley’s wife, Rita, converted to the Rastafari faith, having seen a stigma on Haile Selassie’s hand as he waved to the crowd from his limousine en route to the King’s House, convincing her of his divinity, a belief for which Selassie never rebuked the Rastafari. During his visit, the Emperor told Rastafari elders that they should not immigrate to Ethiopia until they had first liberated the people of Jamaica (liberation before repatriation). After the visit, from being social outcasts the Rastafari achieved a degree of respectability, reggae music became commercially viable and Rastafarianism continued to spread. Haile Selassie encouraged the Rastafari elders to learn about the Ethiopian Orthodox faith while in Jamaica and in 1970 established a mission in Jamaica. Demands for the Rastafari to renounce their faith in Haile Selassie’s divinity were refused and some 2,000 Rastafarians received Orthodox baptisms. On Groundation Day, there is a Nyabinghi ritual with prayers, music, the chanting of Abu Ye! Abu Ye Abu ye! Abu ye! and ganja smoking. Haile Selassie I (ቀዳማዊ ኀይለ ሥላሴ) (1892-1975) was born Ras Tafari Makonnen Woldemikael and was Regent Plenipotentiary of Ethiopia from 1916. As Emperor of Ethiopia from 1930 to 1974 he was the defining figure in modern Ethiopian history. The Rastafari religious movement began in Jamaica in the early-1930s, combining Protestant Christianity, mysticism and a pan-African consciousness. Haile Selassie met Rastafarian elders in Addis Ababa and allowed their followers and others of African descent to settle on his personal land in Shashamane. Image: Lynn Pelham (LIFE Magazine).