Saturday, August 29, 2015

Interfaith Days: Beheading of John the Baptist, Raksha Bandhan

It's been a couple weeks since the last set of interfaith holidays. Today is the Christian commemoration of the Beheading of John the Baptist. The Gospels tell the story of John's execution on orders of Herod Antipas, after his step-daughter requested John's head. The day is a very old liturgical commemoration in Christian history and is celebrated by Roman Catholics, Lutherans, churches of the Anglican Communion, and others. Eastern Orthodox and Byzantine Catholic churches also celebrate the feast day, although in their case it is the August 29 of the Julian calendar.  

Today is also Raksha Bandhan, a Hindu festival that is also celebrated by Jains and many Sikhs. It is a festival celebrating the duties and love between brothers and sisters. As this site indicates, "The ritual is observed on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Shravan, on which sisters tie the sacred Rakhi string on their brothers' right wrists, and pray for their long life…. This ritual not only strengthens the bond of love between brothers and sisters, but also transcends the confines of the family. When a Rakhi is tied on the wrists of close friends and neighbors, it underscores the need for a harmonious social life, where every individual co-exist peacefully as brothers and sisters. All members of the community commit to protect each other and the society in such congregational Rakhi Utsavs, popularized by the Nobel laureate Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore."

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