Religious Calendar

March - April 2018

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!

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March and April mark the season of the Eagle Dances, when people of the Arizona Pueblo tribes dance to dramatize their communities’ relationship with the Sky-World.  This month is also known as Xsaak, the season when candlefish swarm and members of the Nisga’a tribes catch these fish, dry them, and render them into oil for lamps.

April marks the season of Mmaal, which is when the rivers open, and of the Eagle Dances, when people of the Arizona Pueblo tribes dance to dramatize their communities’ relationship with the Sky-World.

Friday, March 16

  • Ghambar Hamaspathmaedem, Fravardegan, or Muktad – Zoroastrianism (cont. until Mar. 20)
    A celebration of the creation of human beings and a commemoration of souls who have died. Prayers are offered to the fravashis (the divine spark within each human, which lives forever), asking for their blessings and protection.

Saturday, March 17

  • Saint Patrick’s Day – Western Christianity
    A commemoration of the missionary bishop who evangelized Ireland in the fifth century C.E.

Sunday, March 18

  • Ugadi or Yugādi – Hinduism
    The New Year’s Day celebration for Hindus of the Deccan Plateau in central and southern India, which traditionally includes a ritual bath, prayers, and the eating of pachhadi: six flavors that represent six different life experiences. The flavors are bitter, tang, sour, spicy, salty, and sweet, which symbolize sadness, surprise, disgust, anger, fear, and happiness.

Tuesday, March 20

  • Spring Equinox

  • Spring Ohigon – Buddhism
    For Buddhists who practice in the Jōdo Shinshū [Japanese Pure Land] tradition, this is a special time to listen to the teaching of the Buddha and meditate on the perfection of enlightenment as lived in the Six Perfections or Paramitas (generosity, morality, wisdom, honesty, endeavor, and patience).

  • Shunki-sorei-sai – Shintō
    The time of the spring memorial service, when ancestors’ spirits are revered at home altars and gravesites are cleaned and purified.

  • Spring Feast – Native American spirituality
    A day to mark the coming and going of seasons and to honor planting through songs, stories, and prayer.

Wednesday, March 21

  • Naw Rúz – Bahá’í
    Marking the beginning of the year 175 of the Bahá’í era, and the beginning of the first month of the year, known as Bahá or “splendor.”

  • Navruz [Now Ruz or Norooz] – Zoroastrianism
    The beginning of the Zoroastrian new year, 1388 AY or 3756 AZ in the Fasli seasonal calendar, which also celebrates the renewal of the world and the creation of fire (which symbolizes righteousness). Zarathustra, the founder of Zoroastrianism, received his revelation on this day.

Saturday, March 24

  • Feast of the Annunciation – Christianity (Eastern churches)
    This festival marks the visit of the Archangel Gabriel to Mary of Nazareth and Mary’s faithful response to God’s plan by consenting to be Jesus’ mother.  

Sunday, March 25

  • Palm Sunday – Christianity (Western churches)
    The remembrance of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, when crowds spread palm fronds on the ground as Jesus rode into the city. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. Eastern churches will begin their commemoration of Palm Sunday at sundown on Saturday, March 31.

  • Ramanavami – Hinduism
    A celebration in honor of the birth of Rama, the seventh incarnation of the god Vishnu. Hindus read the Ramayana, a Hindu epic, and religious dances called Ramalila are performed to depict scenes from his life. This is the culmination of a week-long observance.  

Monday, March 26

  • Khordad Sal – Zoroastrianism
    The birth anniversary of the prophet Zarathustra.

Thursday, March 29

  • Maundy Thursday [Holy Thursday] – Christianity (Western churches)
    The remembrance of Jesus’ last supper with his disciples and his institution of the “love commandment” (the term “Maundy” comes from the Latin word for “commandment”) while he washed their feet as a servant.  

  • Mahavira-jayanti – Jainism
    Celebrating the birthday of Lord Mahavir (Great Hero), the 24th Tirthankara (and last of this time cycle). Jains remember their most important prophet by decorating their temples with flags, with prayers and fasting, and by making offerings of rice, fruit, milk, and other items.

Friday, March 30

  • Good Friday – Christianity (Western churches)
    A commemoration of the passion of Jesus of Nazareth, i.e., his death by crucifixion. At sundown some churches begin the Easter vigil either this evening or on Holy Saturday (March 31).

  • Eve of Pesach [Passover] – Judaism (ends on April 7)
    The beginning of an eight-day festival celebrating God’s deliverance of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt. The story is told during a Seder meal at sundown, including readings from a book known as the Haggadah. Some Jews refrain from work on the first two and the last two days of this holiday.

Saturday, March 31

  • Magha Puja Day [Dharma Day] – Buddhism
    In the Theravada Buddhist tradition, this full moon day of the third lunar month marks the historical Buddha’s sermon at Veruvana Monastery in the city of Rajagaha, where he spoke to 1250 en-lightened monks who were ordained by him.

  • Birthday of Avalokiteśvara or Kuan Yin [Kannon] – Buddhism
    Usually celebrated on or near the full moon day in March, this day marks the occasion when the enlightened being known as Avalokiteśvara (in the Mahāyāna traditions of Tibet and China) or as Kuan Yin or Kannon (the feminine embodiment of this bodhisattva in Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese Buddhism) vowed to attain final, supreme enlightenment and thereby save all suffering sentient beings.  

  • Hanuman Jayanti – Hinduism
    A celebration of the birth of Hanuman, the faithful servant of the god Rama who can assume any form in order to conquer evil. Believers visit temples and apply sindoor (red powder) to their foreheads, since Hanuman is often portrayed as a red half-monkey, half-human

  • Lazarus Saturday – Christianity (Eastern churches)
    A commemoration of Jesus’ miracle of raising his friend Lazarus from the dead, celebrated on the eve before Palm Sunday.

  • Worldwide General Conference begins – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
    This is the largest worship service for Latter-day Saints (also known as Mormons) and lasts for two days. Conference proceedings are broadcast live over the Internet and through other electronic media.

Sunday, April 1

  • Easter Sunday – Christianity (Western churches)
    Celebrating God’s raising of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead, this day is the oldest and most central festival in the Christian year and initiates the fifty-day period culminating in Pentecost. 
  • Palm Sunday – Christianity (Eastern churches)
    The remembrance of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, when crowds spread palm fronds on the ground as Jesus rode into the city.  Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week.

  • Birthdays of Gurū Angad Dev and of Gurū Tegh Bahadur – Sikhism
    Gurū Angad Dev (1504 – 1552 C.E.) was the second and Gurū Tegh Bahadur (1621 – 1675 C.E.) was the ninth of the Sikh Gurūs.

Thursday, April 5

  • Eve of Great and Holy Friday – Christianity (Eastern churches)
    At sundown Eastern churches commemorate Jesus’ death by crucifixion, followed by an observance of the Great Sabbath, in which believers remember Christ’s burial and await his resurrection on Holy Pascha, or Easter morning.

  • Qingming  – Chinese traditional
    Often called Tomb Sweeping Day, it is a day to honor one’s ancestors and visit their grave sites, as well as to welcome the coming of the spring season.

Friday, April 6

  • Anniversary of the Church’s Founding – Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Sunday, April 8

  • Holy Pascha – Christianity (Eastern churches)
    Celebrating God’s raising of Jesus of Nazareth from the dead, this day is the oldest and most central festival in the Christian year and initiates the fifty-day period culminating in Pentecost.  

Monday, April 9

  • Jalál – Bahá’í
    The beginning of the second month in the Bahá’í calendar, “Jalál” means “glory.”

  • Shrimad Rajchandra Dehvilay – Jainism
    This festival marks the day of the emancipation (death) of Shrimad Rajchandra, a prominent Jain philosopher, in 1901 C.E.  He was an influential spiritual guide for Mohandas Karamchand (Mahatma) Gandhi.

Wednesday, April 11

  • Laylat al-Isra’ wa al-Mi’rāj – Islam
    The commemoration of the Prophet Muhammad’s night journey from Mecca to Jerusalem, his ascent into heaven and return on the same night, and his receipt of Allah’s commandment of the five compulsory daily prayers.  This celebration begins at dusk.

Thursday, April 12

  • Yom Ha-Shoah (Holocaust Day) – Judaism
    A day of remembrance for the six million Jews who died because of Nazi atrocities during World War II.  The date chosen is the closest date on the Jewish calendar to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising in 1943.

Saturday, April 19

  • Vaisakhi – Hinduism
    The first day of the solar year and an important harvest festival in northern India.

  • Vaisakhi [or Baisakhi] – Sikhism
    On this date in 1699 C.E., Gurū Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru, created the Khalsa Panth, the Brotherhood of the Pure.  Khalsa brothers are given the name Singh (lion), and sisters are named Kaur (princess).

Monday, April 16

  • Yaqui Deer Dance – Native American spirituality
    A ceremony that integrates ancient rites of the Yaqui people of Arizona with the Christian Easter rituals.

Wednesday, April 18

  • Akshaya-tritiya [Immortal Third] – Jainism
    A day celebrating when Lord Adinatha or Rishabhadeva, the traditional founder of the Jain faith and the first tīrthankar (a being who helps others to cross the great ocean of worldly life and achieve liberation), broke his first year-long fast by drinking juice from a sugar cane.

Friday, April 20

  • Eve of Ridván – Bahá’í  (continues through Wednesday, May 2)
    Commemorating the twelve days that Bahá’u’lláh spent in the garden of Ridván during his exile in Baghdad and when he proclaimed himself as the one announced by the Báb, which occurred in 1863 C.E.  On the first (4/21), ninth (4/29), and twelfth days (5/2) of this festival, work is suspended.  The festival begins at sundown.

Saturday, April 28

  • Jamál – Bahá’í
    The beginning of the third month in the Bahá’í calendar, “Jamál” means “beauty.”

Sunday, April 29

  • Laylat al-Bara’at or Nisf Sha‘bān – Islam
    According to Muslim tradition, Allah approaches the earth on this night (the middle day of the eighth month in the Islamic calendar) to call humanity to repentance and grant forgiveness of sins.

  • Visakha Puja [Buddha Day] – Buddhism
    Celebrated by Theravdin Buddhists on the full moon of the sixth lunar month, this is a triple commemoration of the historical Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death and entrance into nirvana.

Monday, April 30

  • Theravadin New Year  – Buddhism
    The New Year festival for Theravadin Buddhists, celebrated for three days beginning on the first full moon day in April.

  • Ghambar Maidyozarem begins – Zoroastrianism (continues through Friday, May 4)
    Celebrating the creation of sky and the harvesting of the winter crops.

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

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Header Photo: N1NJ4, Creative Commons 2.0