Aspects of Faith: Midsummer Religious Holidays Around the World | Entertainment/Life

In the middle of summer, there are not many major religious festivals from Christianity and Judaism. But July has a lot going on. Here’s a look.

July 10

The Martyrdom of the Bab, Bahá’í

Bahaism is a religion that began in the 1800s in Iran, growing out of Babism. The martyrdom of the Bab is a great holy day.

The Bab was a religious leader in Persia. In 1850, Persian leaders who disapproved of the Bab’s teachings decided to execute him.

This holy day is marked by rest and includes special prayers recited at noon, the scheduled time of the execution.

Mizra Husayn-Aywas, an early follower of the Bab, took the name Baha’u’llah, sometimes spelled Baha Ullah, meaning Glory be to God, and proclaimed himself the prophet foretold by the Bab and established the Baha’i Faith.

The fundamental belief of the Bahá’ís is that humanity, religion and society must be one. To achieve this, it is said, one must abandon prejudice, treat the sexes equally, make education universal, and establish a world federation.

July 13

Obon (Ulambana), Buddhist/Shinto

Obon is when Buddhists and those who practice Shinto honor their ancestors. Calendar differences mean that some regions hold the festival in August. August dates are a time of heavy travel because of the holiday. Lanterns are hung to guide their spirits home. Dancing, grave visits, fireworks and gifts are part of the celebration.

People visit cemeteries to wash family headstones. Houses are cleaned and special altars are placed for the holiday. Many people visit others, especially extended family. A special service at the temple allows people to make donations to “unfortunate spirits”.

July 23

Birthday of Emperor Haile Selassie, Rastafari

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On November 10. On February 2, 1930, Ras Tafari Makonnen was crowned Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia.

A leader of the Negro Improvement Association in 1930 told his followers to look to Africa where a black king would be crowned and that king would be the redeemer. Soon after, Selassie was crowned and many people viewed him as divine, leading to Rastafarianism.

Its association with ska and reggae, and the relocation of its followers to the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, led to the spread of the religion from Jamaica and the Caribbean.

Rastafarianism has never been a monolithic religion. Rastas draw on many ideas, including black supremacy, attempts to return to the African homeland, mysticism, Christianity, and in some circles, the use of marijuana. Because the religion grew out of former slaves who were taught Christianity by slave owners, many Rastas say the King James Version is corrupted.

July 24

Pioneer Day, Mormon

On July 24, Mormons commemorate the day in 1847 when leader Brigham Young and the first group of Mormon pioneers entered Utah’s Salt Lake Valley. The group left Illinois seeking freedom from persecution. The day was celebrated for the first time in 1849 and is a public holiday.

Church leaders had discussed moving west since 1842 because of constant persecution, which included the destruction of buildings.

July 26

Asalha Puja Day (Dhamma Day), Buddhism

Also known as Dhamma Day, this is when Buddhists commemorate the Buddha’s first teaching. It usually falls in July. Dharma can be translated as truth and is the term for the path to enlightenment.

Siddhartha Gautama lived in India in the mid-500s BCE. He left his wealthy family to seek a better way of life and eventually created a philosophical system that taught that right thinking and self-denial would enable the soul to reach Nirvana.

He laid out the foundations of Buddhism in his first sermon, the teaching that extremes in life should be avoided.

SOURCES:,,, World Book; Webster’s New World Dictionary; Ways We Worship, William McElreath; The HarperCollins Dictionary of Religion, Jonathan Z. Smith; The Perennial Dictionary of World Religion, Keith Krim; Encyclopedia Britannica;;;;; Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Press Book;;;

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