Religious Calendar

October-November 2016

The calendar below, created by Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark, is an excellent way to keep on top of religious high holy days and festivals as they go by. It is especially useful for those in interfaith vocations who need this information on a day-to-day basis.

TIO is cooperating with another “working” religious calendar project being led by Read the Spirit. It extends what we usually mean by religious calendar to include important civic holidays. It identifies major religious holidays more than a year in advance. Most important, it features stories about what these many religious festival events are all about – what they mean, the important stories, the food associated, and how particular events are celebrated. Your own stories of religious holidays, whatever your tradition, are welcomed at the site. Check it out!

  * * *

For Native Americans, October marks the season of the Cherokee Green Corn Ceremony and the season of Xlaaw, the season to put up food for the coming winter.

For Native Americans, November marks Gwilatkw, the blanket season of the first snow, in which the Earth covers herself for her winter sleep.

Saturday, October 15

  • ‘Ilm – Bahá’í

The beginning of the twelfth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “knowledge.”

Sunday, October 16

  • Sukkot [Festival of Tabernacles] begins – Judaism

Also known as the Festival of Booths and the Harvest Festival, Jews celebrate this time as a pilgrimage feast and time of thanksgiving.  The booths or huts remind Jews of the tents used by the Israelites during their years wandering in the wilderness, as well as the dwellings used by Jewish farmers at harvest time.   

  • Pavarana – Buddhism

This day is the end of the three-month Vassa or rains retreat observed by Theravadin Buddhist monks.

Wednesday, October 19

  • Karwa Chauth – Hinduism

A day of fasting for married women, in which they dress like new brides and offer prayers for the long lives and safety of their husbands.  Husbands offer sweets to their spouses at the end of the fast, once the moon is sighted.

Thursday, October 20

  • Installation of the Gurū Granth Sahib – Sikhism

This date in the Nanakshahi tradition celebrates the transmission of the gurūship to the Holy Scriptures (the Gurū Granth Sahib Ji) by the tenth gurū, Gobind Singh Ji.  

Sunday, October 23

  • Shemini Atzeret [Eighth Day of Assembly] – Judaism

This eighth day of Sukkot [Festival of Tabernacles] features prayers for rain and a good harvest in the coming year.  It begins at sundown.

Monday, October 24

  • United Nations Day

  • Simchat Torah – Judaism

This festival, also known as “Rejoicing with the Law,” marks the end of Sukkot and the completion of the Torah reading cycle with the beginning of reading the first book again.  Jews celebrate this day by singing, dancing, and marching around the synagogue or temple with Torah scrolls.  This festival begins at sundown.

  • Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Gurū Tegh Bahadur Ji – Sikhism

This day commemorates the martyrdom of the ninth of the Ten Sikh Gurūs (1621-1675 C.E.).  He is remembered for defending the Sikh faith, as well as the rights of Hindus and the cause of religious liberty.   

Friday, October 28

  • Atmasiddhi Rachna Divas (Creation Day) – Jainism

On this day in 1896, the poet Shrimad Rajchandra-ji (who was a spiritual guide for Mohandas Gandhi) wrote the legendary treatise Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra, which explains the quintessence of Jainism.

Sunday, October 30

  • Diwali (Deepavali) – Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism

The festival of lights and Hinduism’s most popular festival.  It is dedicated to the Goddess Kali in Bengal and to Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, in the rest of India.  Diwali is also associated with stories of the destruction of evil by the god Vishnu in one of his many forms, as well as with the coronation of Sri Rama.  Sweets and gifts are exchanged, and it is a time for cleaning and preparing for the future.  This festival is also celebrated by Sikhs and Jains, with this day bearing additional names and significance as shown immediately below.

  • Bandi Chhor Divas – Sikhism

Called “the day of the prisoner’s release,” this festival marks the return of the sixth gurū, Sri Hargobind Ji, and 52 other princes with him to the holy city of Amritsar after being released from detention in 1619 C.E.

  • Mahavira Nirvana – Jainism

On this day Jains celebrate that the soul of Lord Mahavir (6th century B.C.E.), the 24th Tirthankara, attained nirvana and release from the cycle of rebirth [moksha].

Monday, October 31Halloween

  • Reformation Day – Christianity [Protestant churches]

This day commemorates October 31, 1517 C.E., when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg, Germany, eventually leading to the Protestant Reformation in Europe.  Most Protestant Christian churches will mark this on Sunday, October 30th.

  • Samhain – Wicca

Celebration of the Celtic New Year.  The dying God returns to the womb of the Goddess in preparation for rebirth at Yule.  The souls of ancestors and those who have died during the turning of the past year’s wheel are remembered.  Vegan Wiccans harvest nuts, the kernels of which symbolize wisdom.

Tuesday, November 1

  • All Saints Day – Christianity [Western churches]

A commemoration of the lives of people, known and unknown, whose holiness and compassion toward others represent the best Christian virtues.  In some Christian traditions, the following day is reserved for intercessions for the dead and is known as All Souls’ Day.  Latino/a people in North and Central America mark these days in connection with celebrations of Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead.

  • Birth of the Báb — Bahá’í

Anniversary of the birth of the Báb, one of the twin Prophet founders of the Bahá’í faith, in 1819 C.E.  His nineteen disciples, known as Letters of the Living, taught his religion throughout 19th century Persia.  His shrine is located in Haifa, Israel.  Bahá’ís suspend work on this day.

Wednesday, November 2

  • Birth of the Bahá’u’lláh — Bahá’í

Anniversary of the birth of the Bahá’u’lláh (“Glory of God”), the founder of the Bahá’í faith, in Tehran, Persia [modern-day Iran], in 1817 C.E.  Devout followers suspend work on this day; some begin their observance of the day on the previous day’s sundown.

  • Coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I – Rastafari

Because Rastafarians recognize Haile Selassie (born Ras Tafari Makonnen in 1892; died in 1975) as an incarnation of God and a messiah who will lead the peoples of Africa and the African Diaspora to freedom, peace, and prosperity, his coronation day as Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930 is remembered as a major festival.

Thursday, November 3

  • Qudrat – Bahá’í

The beginning of the thirteenth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “power.”

Saturday, November 5

  • Jnana Panchami – Jainism

On this fifth day of the Jain new year, some believers begin a 36-hour fast and offer prayers and rituals in order to seek right knowledge and transcendent wisdom.

Monday, November 14  

  • The Advent (or Nativity) Fast – Christianity [Eastern churches]

The beginning of a forty-day vegetarian fast in preparation for the Feast of the Nativity (Christmas) commences at sundown.  For Orthodox Christians who follow the old calendar, this fast begins two weeks later.

  • Gurū Nanak’s Birthday – Sikhism

Sikhs commonly celebrate the birthday of their founder, Gurū Nanak Dev Ji, on the full moon day of Kartik, even though the guru’s biographers record his birth on April 15, 1469 C.E.  A poet and mystic, Guru Nanak wrote 974 hymns that are included in the Sikh scriptures, known as the Gurū Granth Sahib.

  • Lokasha Jayanti – Jainism

Celebrating the births of revered and scholarly persons, such as the 15th century reformer Lonka Saha, whose opposition to temple worship and the use of images led to the founding of the Sthanakavasi sect.

Sunday, November 20

  • Christ the King Sunday – Christianity [Western churches]

This feast day commemorates Jesus’ teaching that he will return at the end of time to judge humanity.  In the Western Christian liturgical year, this is the last Sunday; the following Sunday (i.e., the first Sunday of Advent) marks the beginning of a new year.

Monday, November 21

  • Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – Christianity [Catholic churches]
  • Entry of the Mother of God into the Temple – Christianity [Eastern churches]

This day commemorates the entrance of the three-year-old Virgin Mary into the temple at Jerusalem to receive an education and begin her life of absolute dedication to God.  According to some apocryphal writings, Mary also entered the Temple’s Holy of Holies on this occasion, thus becoming the first and only woman ever to enter that sacred space.

Tuesday, November 22

  • Qawl – Bahá’í

The beginning of the fourteenth month of the Bahá’í year, meaning “speech.”

Thursday, November 24

  • Thanksgiving Day

This national holiday was first officially observed after a proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, in 1863 C.E.  Establishing the fourth Thursday of November for the observance, Lincoln wrote that “[The blessings enjoyed in this country] are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.  It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”

  • Anniversary of the Martyrdom of Gurū Tegh Bahadur Ji – Sikhism

This day commemorates the martyrdom of the ninth of the Ten Sikh Gurūs (1621-1675 C.E.).  He is remembered for defending the Sikh faith, as well as the rights of Hindus and the cause of religious liberty.  

 Friday, November 25

  • Day of the Covenant – Bahá’í

A celebration of the appointment of ’Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of Bahá’u’lláh, as the Center of the Covenant in New York City in 1912 C.E.  Devout followers begin their remembrance the preceding evening and do not suspend work on this day.  

Sunday, November 27

  •  First Sunday of Advent (hope) – Christianity [Western churches]

The first of four Sundays leading up to Christmas Day (the name Advent derives from the Latin word for “coming,” since Christians believe that Jesus of Nazareth comes as God’s anointed).  Each Sunday in Advent is associated with a particular virtue: Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

  • Ascension of ’Abdu’l-Bahá – Bahá’í

The commemoration of the death of the Center of the Covenant in Haifa, Palestine, in 1921 C.E.  Devout followers begin their remembrance the preceding evening and are allowed to work on this day.

If you want more information about any of these holy days, please contact

UCSF Medical Center Spiritual Care Services at 415-353-1941 (Rev. Dr. Peter Yuichi Clark)

Our thanks to the Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago, the Multifaith Action Society of British Columbia (Canada), BBC’s Religion Website, Peel Schools District Board (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada), the Arizona State University Provost’s Office, the NCCJ of the Piedmont Triad, the Anti-Defamation League, Project Interfaith (Omaha, NE), the University of Victoria Faculty of Law (British Columbia, Canada), the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Education, and

To subscribe to this calendar and sync it with your Google, Outlook, or iCal calendars, visit and select the “Resources” menu.