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Seasons of Celebration

Seasons of Celebration

In the southern hemisphere, the end of the year brings us

to summer and Christmas; celebration seems to shimmer

everywhere, like sunshine on water.

• On 6 & 7 November, the Hindu community celebrated

Diwali, the Festival of Lights which symbolises the triumph

of light over dark and good over evil.

• The Bahai Community celebrated the birth of Bab and

Baha’u’llah on 9 & 10 November, symbolising the arrival of

the age of Peace and Justice on Earth.

• Islam celebrates the Birth of the Prophet Mohammed,

peace be upon him, on 21 November this year.

• On 3 December, the Jewish community commence their

8-day celebration of Chanukah, also sometimes called the

Festival of Lights or the Festival of Dedication. This holiday

commemorates the rededication of the Second Temple in

Jerusalem and is characterised by the progressive lighting

of the menorah on each evening of the Festival.

• And then, on 25 December, Christians celebrate Christmas,

the birth of Jesus, known as the Light of the World.

Each of these events brings a sense of upliftment and joy to

the celebrating community. In these days of political turmoil,

climatic tragedy and social upheaval, we can really do with

all the joy we can get. Celebration and joy are potentially

our greatest weapons against the disillusionment, despair and

violence facing in the world right now.

When I focus on celebration, opening my heart to the joy of

sharing an uplifting moment with people I care about, I find

that the energy somehow shifts and I feel better able to deal

constructively with whatever challenges I may have in my life

at that time.

In this context, religious festivals could have an important

role to play in encouraging humanity to keep going, keep

trying, keep caring; because the light that is ignited during

shared celebration is radiant. It feeds and nurtures everyone,

strengthening the entire community for the next part of the

journey.

In each tradition, the messages of Love, Forgiveness, Kindness

and Charity shine brightly through the stories that serve as

their vehicle. Traditionally, at Christmas, we speak about

Peace on Earth and Goodwill amongst humans. Would any

one of us, given a choice and regardless of our spiritual or

religious affiliation, refuse the opportunity for Peace on Earth,

or in our street, or in our home? Christmas is a time to practice

peace and goodwill, which effectively means to create real

community in our homes, neighbourhoods, city and country.

Once, I was taken to task by a Christian friend for celebrating

Christmas when I am not Christian. But when Love is the

message of the celebration, how do you shut the door on its

light that wants to be shared? Love is not limited to any one

Religion. Love spills out, runs over, and embraces generously

the part of itself that is expressed differently. Love recognises

itself in all of life; it seeks to unite, to celebrate, to share and

to heal. Love gifts itself freely, creatively wrapped in a smile, a

glance, a hug. Love is the message I see in the lighting of the

menorah, the triumphant lights of Diwali, the births of Bab and

Baha’u’llah, Mohammed and Jesus.

May Love be the gift we all give each other this Blessed

Season, no matter what Faith we follow.

And may there be peace in your heart,

your home and your street.

Berry Behr, Chairperson,

Cape Town Interfaith Initiative

 

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