Festivities from faith
These days it’s great to have the flexibility to be able to travel pretty much anywhere across the globe all year round. However, while you may know where you want to travel to, it can sometimes be hard to pinpoint when the best time to visit a destination is.
Whatever your viewpoint on religion as a whole may be, visiting a country during a religious celebration is a great time to experience the colour, sights and sounds of a particular place as it provides a unique insight into a country’s culture.
Many religious festivities transcend geographical borders and are recognised as major world festivals and holidays. Sometimes the dates of the festivities can differ depending on the country concerned so it’s best to do your homework before booking your travel.
The Flexicover Team highlights some of the religious festivals worth visiting.
11th - 15th November 2015
Known as the ‘Festival of Lights’ or Deepavali, this is one of the most important Hindu religious festivals. Celebrating the victory of good over evil, it’s an official holiday in various countries with sizable Hindu populations such as India, Nepal, Trinidad and Tobago, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Mauritius, Guyana and Fiji. The days of Diwali witness the decoration of houses with oil lamps, bursting of crackers, elaborate family meals, exchanging of gifts and daily pujas or worship in temples. In India especially, Diwali is not just a major religious festival but also a significant social event celebrated by people of all religions.
25th - 28th March 2016
One of the most well-known Christian festivals, celebrated the world over, Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ following his crucifixion. Marking the end of Lent, a forty-day period of fasting and penance, Easter Day falls on a Sunday, preceded by Good Friday. The period has many popular traditions and symbols associated with it including brightly painted eggs (as an image of life and rebirth), baking sweetbreads and the Easter feast. The Easter Egg Roll is one famous tradition that takes place on the lawns of the White House in Washington D.C. every year. In Europe, Spain and Italy are great and colourful places to visit during this time.
22nd – 30th April 2016
Passover, or Pesach, is one of the most important Jewish festivals; the remembrance of the Israelites’ liberation from slavery in Egypt. Passover meals (sedar) comprising unleavened bread (matzo) and lamb with bitter herbs are shared with the family during this seven day festival. The name comes from the fact that the ten plagues released on Egypt ‘passed over’ those houses marked with the blood of a sacrificial lamb. Hymns, blessings, readings of the Haggadah and the customary four glasses of wine all add a warm and cheerful aspect to Passover. As well as Israel, festivities in Morocco, Ethiopia and Gibraltar are worth a visit if you can.
21st May 2016
The birthday of Lord Buddha holds a special place in the hearts of Buddhists. Also known as Vesakha, after the same month in the Hindu and Buddhist calendars during which it falls, this festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and other South-east Asian countries. Whilst the date varies from country to country, this Buddhist religious festival is always celebrated on the day of a full moon (poya). Devotees convene at temples at dawn and offer incense sticks, candles and flowers, hoist flags and sing hymns. In some places, birds and insects are set free in a ritual of celebration and liberation.
Early July 2016
One of the most important Muslim religious festivals, Eid al-Fitr marks the end of the Islamic holy month of fasting (Ramadan). Only observed on a single day, Eid falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal and begins as soon as the new moon is officially sighted (which varies depending where you are). Celebrants wear new clothes, share feasts, exchange greetings of “Eid Mubarak” and offer special prayers. Children often receive money from family elders and the poor are given food, clothes and other gifts. Aside from the Near East, good places to visit are Canada, Bangladesh, Tunisia or the Philippines.
While religious festival dates often change from year to year, since many are based on lunar calendars, checking which festivals you can be a part of when planning a trip can provide a good window into the local culture. As always, we at Flexicover are committed to providing you with the highest level of protection to ensure that you are safe and secure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year when away.