Several world religions to mark major holy days
BY CATHLEEN FALSANI RELIGION REPORTER
Several religious traditions will mark important holy days in the coming week.
On Monday, Baha'is will celebrate the birth of Baha'u'llah, the prophet-founder of their Eastern religious tradition. Baha'u'llah was born in Persia (now Iran) 184 years ago.
While Baha'is worship Allah, not Baha'u'llah, his birthday commemoration is something akin to Christmas in the Christian tradition. Baha'is in the Chicago area, who number about 1,500, will mark their prophet's birthday with a special service at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Baha'i House of Worship, 112 Linden, Wilmette.
Hindus celebrate the festival of Diwali --"cluster of lights"--on Wednesday. The four-day festival is the most important in the Hindu tradition and is celebrated by all Hindus. It holds particular meaning for merchants, bankers and businessmen because the festival's main worship is centered on Laksmi, the goddess of wealth.
Hindus mark Diwali by putting out colorful lights and exchanging sweets and presents.
Jains--followers of another Indian religious tradition known as Jainism--also celebrate Diwali. But their Diwali is on Thursday and marks the day they believe the soul of their 24th and last spiritual teacher, Lord Mahavir, attained Moksha, or Nirvana. Jains also mark Diwali by lighting lamps.
Thursday also marks the beginning of the 40-day vegetarian Advent Fast for Orthodox Christians in preparation for the Feast of the Nativity, or Christmas Day.
And on Saturday Muslims are expected to begin their monthlong, sunrise-to-sunset fast of Ramadan, the holiest month in the Islamic year during which Muslims believe their holy book, the Quran, was revealed to the Prophet Muhammad. Ramadan begins with the sighting of the moon the evening before the fast begins. Islamic scholars in Chicago are expecting the moon sighting to happen Friday.
Christian unity? Several conservative Christian leaders are meeting at the University of St. Mary of the Lake in Mundelein through Saturday to explore the possibilities of greater unity among "orthodox" Christians and "the Christian's responsibility to draw the lines--theological and moral--in the right places."
Among the speakers will be the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, a Roman Catholic commentator and editor in chief of First Things; R. Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University; Metropolitan Maximos of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese; and Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School.
Admission to the conference, which began Thursday, is $25 per session, $15 for students with current ID. For more information, call (877) 375-7373, or go online to www.touchstonemag.com.
State of hate: The Center for New Community will reveal the results of a study of white supremacist activities in the Midwest at a conference Saturday at Chicago's Congress Hotel.
Conference worskhops will cover topics such as "Countering Anti-Arab and Anti-Muslim Bigotry," "Overcoming the Divisive Politics of Homophobia" and "Unmasking Christian Identity Theology," is $40. For more information about the 2001 Building Democracy Conference, call (708) 848-0319.
$500,000 award: Bethel New Life, a faith-based community organization in West Garfield Park, received a $500,000 award for the Annie E. Casey Foundation as part of its Families Count: The National Honors Program.
For 21 years, Bethel New Life has provided West Side families with social service programs, including the development of more than 1,000 units of low-income housing, placing 5,000 people in jobs and bringing nearly $100 million in new investments.
Pulpit visitor: The Rev. Clay Evans, founding pastor of Chicago's Fellowship Baptist Church, will be the guest preacher at St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church at 11:15 a.m. Sunday to celebrate the parish's annual "Elders Day."
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