A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Khordad Sal. Start of Zoroastrian Kadmi celebration of the Birthday of Prophet Zarathushtra on the sixth day after NoRuz, with visits to the Fire Temple to give thanks to Ahura Mazda, the one God, for giving humanity the ideal gift of the Prophet Zarathushtra, whose philosophy is both giving and fulfilling. Khordad means perfection and Sal year and there is a Jashan thanksgiving ceremony, with prayer and stories of Zarathushtra’s miraculous birth and life, normally followed by a lavish community meal, drinking and dancing. This is a symbolic date, as the actual date of his birth cannot be accurately identified. It is one of the most important days in Zoroastrianism and devotees look at ways in which they can improve the lives of others and themselves, clean their houses, display torans (decorative door hangings) of fresh flowers and create rangoli chalk designs on the floor. They wear new clothes, cook traditional dishes, exchange gifts and greet each other with Khordad Sal Mubarak! (Happy Khordad Sal!). Zarathustra’s ideas of monotheism, tempered by belief in the Devil and the struggle between Good and Evil with a final judgement, greatly influenced today’s major world religions, particularly Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Bahá’í faith. Zoroastrians have endured many hardships, the most significant being the invasion by Alexander, and the later Arab conquest, of Persia. Though greatly diminished in numbers, Zarathustra’s followers have continued to honour his revolutionary teachings for over 3,000 years. Due to calendar differences, the Zoroastrian Shenshai date is 21 August and in Iran it was 26 March. Image: reepinfo.org.
Prayer As the golden sun sets and the calendar turns, may the stars shine upon us all, may the flowers fill our hearts with beauty, may hope forever to wipe away our tears and, above all, may every moment of this wonderful Khordad Sal be enjoyed by all people across the world. Happy Khordad Sal!
Third day of Eid. The optional fifth day of Hajj and third of Eid al-Adha on 12 Dhul al-Hijjah in the Islamic lunar calendar. As on the previous day, pilgrims still in Mina pray at sunrise and re-enact the pilgrimage of Ibrahim (Abraham) to Makkah (Mecca), with pebbles the size of date stones for the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual. For the stoning, they go to where Shaytan (Satan) tried to dissuade Ibrahim from carrying out the divine instruction he had received. Three pillars mark the places where Ibrahim was tested by the whisperings of Shaytan: Jamarah al-Aqaba (the big pillar); Jamarah al-Wusta (middle pillar); and Jamarah al-Ula (small pillar), about 150 m and 120 m apart. In 2005, they were rebuilt as large wall structures. After a moment of silence, the first seven stones are thrown at the Jamarah Al-Aqabah pillar, reciting ‘Allah u Akbar’ (الله اكبر, Allah is Greatest) with every throw, stoning the wall of Satan being a reminder of the faith that one should have in Allah (God). This is repeated for the other two pillars. After the stoning, pilgrims may again stay in Mina to complete the fifth day of Hajj. Differences in moon sightings mean that Muslims in different parts of the world celebrate these Islamic events on different days. Image: jamiat.org.za.
San Lorenzo da Brindisi (Saint Lawrence of Brindisi OFM Cap, Giulio Cesare Russo) (1559-1619). Feast commemorating both the birth and death of the Italian Roman Catholic priest, linguist and theologian, a member of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin. He was born into a family of Venetian merchants in Brindisi, Kingdom of Naples, and after the early death of his parents, raised by an uncle and educated at Saint Mark’s College in Venice. Cesare joined the Capuchins in Verona as Brother Lawrence and received further instruction in the University of Padua. An accomplished linguist, in addition to his native Italian, Lawrence could read and speak fluently Latin, Hebrew, Greek, German, Bohemian, Spanish and French. He was ordained a priest at 23 and at 31 was elected superior of the Capuchin Franciscan province of Tuscany, being appointed Definitor General to Rome for the Capuchins in 1596 to preach to the Jews in the city. He was so proficient in the Hebrew language that rabbis assumed he had been a convert from Judaism. Beginning in 1599, Lawrence established Capuchin monasteries in modern Germany and Austria, furthering the Counter-Reformation and bringing many Protestants back to the Catholic faith. In 1601, he served as the imperial chaplain for the army of the Holy Roman Emperor and successfully recruited the Duke of Mercœur to help fight against the Ottoman Turks. He then led the army, carrying only with a crucifix, during the siege by the Ottoman Empire of Székesfehérvár (Fehérvár) in Hungary. In 1602, he was elected Vicar General of the Capuchin friars, at that time the highest office in the Order, and re-elected in 1605 but refused the office. He entered the service of the Holy See, becoming Papal Nuncio to Bavaria. After serving as Nuncio to Spain, he retired to a monastery in 1618 but was recalled as a special envoy to the King of Spain regarding the actions of the Viceroy of Naples in 1619. After finishing his mission, Lawrence died in Lisbon on his birthday. He was entombed at the Poor Clares’ Convento de la Anunciada (Convent of the Annunciation) in Villafranca del Bierzo, Spain. Patron saint of Brindisi. Image: newdailycompass.com.