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Diverse Cultural Events in 2021

The following is a calendar of events that mark cultural celebrations to enjoy, while learning about the customs of others in a fun and educational way! Find out about the celebrations of Jews, Muslims, Blacks, Hindus and more here:

Jan. 14, Makara Sankranti (also spelled Makar Sakranti or Sankranthi) is a mid-winter Hindu festival of India and Nepal. The festival is celebrated to mark the transition of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn during the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere (or the beginning of Uttarayana). The famous Kumbh Mela is also held on Makar Sankranti every 12 years. Hindus gather in large numbers to take a holy dip at Ganga Sagar on this day every year. (Hindu)

  • Jan. 18, Martin Luther King Day


  • February 12, Lunar New Year, Celebrated: China. This national public holiday is the biggest festival in the country, officially celebrated over the course of a week and informally celebrated for up to two weeks, starting with a traditional spring cleaning at home. This massive holiday features parades, fireworks, and special cakes and dumplings. Gambling isn’t technically legal in China, but many families and friends do so anyway at this time (Las Vegas goes all out for Chinese New Year with fantastical decorations and promos). Travel during this time and you’ll see bright splashes of red, an auspicious color, everywhere.

  • Black History Month, or National African American History Month, is an annual celebration of achievements by black Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of African Americans in U.S. history. The event grew out of “Negro History Week,” the brainchild of noted historian Carter G. Woodson and other prominent African Americans. Since 1976, every U.S. president has officially designated the month of February as Black History Month. Other countries around the world, including Canada and the United Kingdom, also devote a month to celebrating black history.

  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (officially Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.) is an American federal holiday marking the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. It is observed on the third Monday of January each year, which is around King's birthday, January 15.

  • Feb. 26, Purim is one of the most joyous and fun holidays on the Jewish calendar

  • Late Feb. or early March: Holi, Date: The full moon in the month of Phalgun, typically sometime in late February or March, Celebrated: India. Holi is one of those festivals that is so joyful and colorful that it has been adopted by people around the world — if you’ve ever been to a “color run” and had powdered pigment thrown on you while rushing through a 5K, you’ve seen the influence of this popular holiday. It’s a spring festival that’s almost childlike in its frivolity, with people of all ages smearing bright colors on each other, eating, and drinking. It’s a time of renewal, too, and letting go of past regrets and grudges. Both Hindus and Sikhs celebrate Holi, though it’s also become a secular holiday in parts of India.

  • Feb. or March, Maha Shivaratri, Date: Typically February or March, Celebrated: India. Unlike Holi, Maha Shvaratri is a serious holiday of contemplation and worship. It’s devoted to the Hindu god Shiva and celebrated all night with prayer vigils. Worshippers might fast, do yoga, and think about how they can overcome weaknesses in themselves. Many pack temples and other holy sites and stay throughout the dark hours.

2021 JANUARY 2021 Makara Sankranti (also spelled Makar Sakranti or Sankranthi) is a mid-winter Hindu festival of India and Nepal. The festival is celebrated to mark the transition of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn during the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere (or the beginning of Uttarayana). The famous Kumbh Mela is also held on Makar Sankranti every 12 years. Hindus gather in large numbers to take a holy dip at Ganga Sagar on this day every year. (Hindu)


  • March 11, Maha Shivratri (also called Shivaratri), which means Night of Shiva, is an Hindu festival celebrated every year. The most significant practices on this day are offerings of Bheel (Bilva) leaves to the Lord Shiva, fasting and all night long vigil. (Hindu).

  • March 28-29, March 30-April 2, April 3-4, Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Jewish)

  • March 28, Holi is a popular, Hindu spring festival, observed in North India and Nepal, also called the Festival of Colours. In West Bengal, it is known as Dolyatra (Doljatra) or Boshonto Utshob ("spring festival"). The first evening is known as Holika Dahan or Chhoti Holi and the following day as Holi, Rangwali Holi, Dhuleti, Dhulandi, or Phagwah. On the first day, bonfires are lit at night to signify burning Holika. On the second day, known as Dhulandi, people spend the day throwing coloured powder and water at each other. Rangapanchami occurs a few days later on a Panchami (fifth day of the full moon), marking the end of festivities involving colours (Hindu)

  • March 31, Cesar Chavez holiday (California, Arizona and Texas). This holiday honors the Mexican-American labor and civil rights activist who gained attention in the 1960s as the leader of the United Farm Workers. His non-violent advocacy approach earned him worldwide respect. California, Arizona and Texas have made the day a state holiday; other states are considering doing so.

APRIL 2021

  • April 4, Catholic/Western Easter, Anant Chaturdashi has two main significances. The first is that on this day is that it is the day of the immersion of Ganpati (also called Ganapati Visarjan). On this day, the festival of Ganpati comes to an end, the installed Murti's of Lord Ganpati are taken to a lake, river or a sea in great processions to be immersed in the waters. Thus Lord Ganesha is departed, only to be welcomed the next year with equal excitement. The second reason for Anant Chaturdashi is that on this day people recite and listen to the stories and legends of God Vishnu who is Anant, the infinite and recite hymns from the Vedas. This is sometimes also called Ananta Vrat.

  • April 4-5, Qingming Festival, Celebrated: China. This holiday is known as “tomb- sweeping day” and is meant to honor the dead. This ancient festival has been celebrated for more than 2,500 years. It’s a time to clean relatives’ resting places, make prayers and offerings for the dead, fly kites, and eat green dumplings. It’s a festival with a family and tradition focus.

  • April 8, Vesak (also known as Sinhalese, Buddha Purnima or Visakah Puja) is the most important holiday in the Buddhist calendar. Vesak celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of the Gautama Buddha. The name Vesak is derived from the name of the Buddhist month during which Vesak is celebrated. In most countries in South-East Asia, Vesak is celebrated on the same date as in Thailand, or one day later. In China, dates are about a week earlier. The exact date of Vesak varies according to the various lunar calendars used in different traditions. In Theravada countries following the Buddhist calendar, it falls on a full moon Uposatha day, typically in the 5th or 6th lunar month. (Buddhism)

  • April 21, Ram Navami (sometimes spelled Rama Navami) is the celebration of the birthday of Rama, a divine figure in Hinduism. On this festival people perform Kalyanotsavam (marriage celebration) with small images of Rama and Sita in their houses, and at the end of the day the deity is taken to a procession on the streets. (Hindu)

MAY 2021

  • May 1, Primero de Mayo or Día del Trabajo or Día del Trabajador; a national holiday celebrated in most Spanish-speaking countries, equivalent to the U.S. Labor Day.

  • May 2, The Orthodox Christian date for Easter Sunday often occurs at a later date than the Easter Sunday date observed by many western churches, so many Orthodox Christians in the United States celebrate Jesus’ resurrection on the Western Easter Sunday.

  • May 5, Cinco de Mayo (México). Commemorates de victory of Mexican forces over the French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It is primarily a regional holiday celebrated in the Mexican state capital city of Puebla, and in other parts of Mexico. It is also celebrated in U.S. cities with a significant Mexican population. It is not, as many people think, Mexico’s Independece Day, which is actually September 16.

  • May 17-18, Festival of Weeks, commemorates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai (Jewish)

  • May, Ramadan. Date: Ninth month of the Islamic calendar year, typically sometime in May to sometime in June. Celebrated: India and Muslims. Ramadan is one of the most famous holidays in the world, an epic, month-long observance marked by intense fasting, pre-dawn meals and nighttime feasts. Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars of Islam and is a time of charity, discipline, reflection, and prayer. It’s the most sacred month of the Islamic year and was founded by Mohammed himself. At the end of Ramadan, the massive celebration Eid-al-Fitr kicks off the month of Shawwal with feasts, sweets, gifts, shopping, and special prayers.

  • Late May/early June. Dragon Boat Festival. Date:Fifth day of the fifth lunar month, usually late May or early June. Celebrated:China. This festival, known in Chinese at the Duanwu Festival, has many origin stories. A popular idea is that it honors the death of the ancient poet Qu Yuan. A political exile, he eventually committed suicide by drowning in a river; in some tellings, the boat races are said to commemorate the effort of the people who rushed out to save him. Dragon boat races are exciting and a lot of fun to watch. Families also make zongzi, a traditional pyramid-shaped concoction made of sticky rice and other fillings.

  • JUNE 2021

• June 19, Juneteenth is the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. Join Yard Sign Campaign. From its Galveston, Texas origin in 1865, the observance of June 19th as the African American Emancipation Day has spread across the United States and beyond.

JULY 2021

  • July 11, International Malala Day

  • July 24, Asalha Puja (known as Asanha Puja in Thailand or “Dhamma Day”) commemorates the Buddha’s first sermon in the Deer Park in Benares, India, and the founding of the Buddhist sangha. The day is observed by donating offerings to temples and listening to sermons. (Buddhism).


  • August 21, The name Raksha Bandhan means "the bond of protection". The festival (also known as Rakhi) celebrates the relationship between brothers and sisters. During the festival, sisters tie a rakhi (a holy thread) around their brothers? wrists. The brother in return vows to look after his sister, and offers her a gift (Hindu).

  • Aug. 29, The festivel of Krishna Janmaashtami (also known as Krishnaashtami, Gokulaashtami, Srikrishna Jayanti, Sree Jayanthi, Janmaashtami or Krishna

Janmashtami Puja) celebrates the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar (incarnation) of Vishnu. The festival starts by fasting on the previous day (Saptami), followed by a night- long celebration of the birth of Krishna, and his removal by his father to a foster-home for safe-keeping. At midnight, the idol of the infant Krishna is bathed and placed in a cradle. In the early morning, ladies draw little children feet patterns outside the house with rice- flour paste to symbolize the entry of the infant Krishna into his foster-home. After ablutions, morning prayers and worship, the devout break their fast with Prasadam, food that has first been offered to the lord.


  • Sept. 7-8, Jewish New Year

  • Sept. 10, The festival of Ganesh Chaturthi (also known as Vinayaka Chaturthi, Vinayaka Chavithi or sometimes Vinayagar Chaturthi) marks a day on which Lord Ganesha makes his presence on earth for all his devotees. The festival lasts for up to 10 days (depending on the place where it is celebrated), ending on Ananta Chaturdashi. During the festivals, a household worships an idol of Shri Ganesha, and there are public celebrations of the festival. (Hindu).

  • Mid-September: Hispanic Heritage Month, officially founded in 1968, occurs each year from September 15 to October 15, a period which includes the anniversary of independence of eight Latin American countries. During National Hispanic Heritage Month in the U.S., we recognize the contributions made by and the important presence of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the United States, and celebrate their heritage and culture.

  • Sept. 26, Day of Atonement (Jewish)

  • Mid-September, Mid-Autumn Day. Date: Fifteenth day of the eighth month, usually mid- September. Celebrated: China (also Vietnam). You might already know this festival for its famous mooncakes, pastries filled with lotus seed paste or bean paste. Mid-Autumn day is a harvest festival, not entirely unlike Thanksgiving in North America, and celebrates family, friendship, abundance, and luck.

  • Sept. 18-20, Rosh Hashanah

  • Sept. 19, Anant Chaturdashi has two main significances. The first is that on this day is that it is the day of the immersion of Ganpati (also called Ganapati Visarjan). On this day, the festival of Ganpati comes to an end, the installed Murti's of Lord Ganpati are taken to a lake, river or a sea in great processions to be immersed in the waters. Thus Lord Ganesha is departed, only to be welcomed the next year with equal excitement. The second reason for Anant Chaturdashi is that on this day people recite and listen to the stories and legends of God Vishnu who is Anant, the infinite and recite hymns from the Vedas. This is sometimes also called Ananta Vrat. (Hindu)

  • Sept. 21, International Day of Peace

  • Sept. 21-22, Sept. 23-27, Feast of Tabernacles (Jewish)

  • Sept. 27-28, Yom Kippur

  • Sept. 29, Day of Celebrating the Torah (Jewish)


• 2nd Monday of October, Indigenous Peoples' Day (also known as Native American Day) is a holiday celebrated in various localities in the United States. It began as a counter- celebration to Columbus Day, promoting Native American culture and commemorating the history of Native American peoples. The celebration began in Berkeley, California, through the International Indian Treaty Council, and Denver, Colorado, as a protest against Columbus Day, which is listed as a federal holiday in the United States, but is

not observed as a state holiday in every state. Indigenous Peoples' Day is usually held on the second Monday of October, coinciding with the federal observance of Columbus Day

  • Oct. 6-14, Navaratri (also spelled Navratri or Navaratra) is a festival of dance and worship. The word Navaratri is made of two words: Nava (nine) and Ratri (nights). Navaratri is divided into three-day sets, each devoted to a different aspect of the supreme goddess. The first three days are devoted to Durga (to destroy all our vices, impurities, and defects). The next three day set is devoted to Lakshmi (the giver of spiritual and material wealth), and the last set is devoted to Saraswati (the goddess of wisdom). Blessing from all three aspects of the divine mother is the only way to have all-round success in life. (Hindu).

  • Oct. 12, The Saraswati Puja festival (also known as Basant Panchami or Vasant Panchami) is a festival devoted to Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge, music and art. Traditionally during this festival children are taught to write their first words. The color yellow has a special meaning during this festival, and people usually wear yellow garments during the holiday, and yellow sweets are consumed within the families. (Hindu)

  • Oct. 14, The festival of Dussehra (also know as Dasara, Dashain or sometimes Vijayadashami) marks the triumph of Lord Rama over Demon king Ravana. On this day, Rama killed Ravana. Dussehra marks the end of the nine days of Navratri, and is celebrated on the tenth day. On this festival, people decorate the house and shop entrances with flower studded strings called ?Torans? (Floral Gateways). At night effigies of Ravana, Kumbhakaran and Meghanad are stuffed with firecrackers and set alight. (Hindu).

  • Mid-October or Mid-November. Diwali. Date: Celebrated over five days, typically sometime between mid-October and mid-November. Celebrated: India. This festival, also known as Deepavali, is so beautiful — participants light up their homes, offices, and businesses with thousands of lights to celebrate the triumph of light over darkness. This hugely popular Hindu celebration is a time for cleaning, gathering with friends and family, putting on your best clothes and throwing generous bashes. Diwali is also celebrated by Jains and Sikhs, which contributes to its massive popularity.


• Nov. 1 & 2 Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead (Mexico, Central America). In most regions of Mexico, November 1 is to honor children and infants, whereas deceased adults are honored on November 2. This is indicated by generally referring to November 1 mainly as Día de los Santos Inocentes* ("Holy Innocents Day") but also as Día de los Angelitos ("Day of the Little Angels") and November 2 as Día de los Muertos or Día de los Difuntos ("Day of the Dead"). Traditionally, it is an observance festivity to celebrate and honor one’s ancestors. It’s based on the belief that there is interaction between the living world and the world of spirits. On the Día de los Muertos, the almas, or the spirits of the dead, are said to come back for family reunions. Many celebrate setting up ofrendas (altars) in their homes to honor the memory of deceased loved ones and to welcome their visiting souls. Others visit their loved one’s cemetery plot and decorate it with flowers, candles and food. The holiday is celebrated with family and community gatherings, music, and feasting, and the festivity of its observance acknowledges death as an integral part or life.

  • Nov. 14, The festival of Diwali (also spelled Deepavali) is the Festival of Lights, which symbolizes the victory of good over evil. The lamps are lit as a sign of celebration and hope. Diwali is one of the most popular holidays in Hindu countries. It is celebrated for five days and nights during the Hindu month of Ashwayuja.Nov. 20, Loy Krathong (sometimes spelled Loi Krathong) is a festival celebrated mostly in Thailand and Laos. The name could be translated as "to float a basket", and comes from the tradition of making decorated baskets, which are then floated on a river. (Hindu).

  • Nov. 29 – Dec. 6, The Jewish festival of rededication, also known as the Festival of Lights.


  • Dec. 8, Traditionally, Bodhi Day (also known as Bodhi in Sanskrit or Pali) commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Shakyamuni or Siddhartha Gotama, experienced enlightenment and found the roots of suffering after sitting and meditating under a pipul tree. When Siddhartha was enlighted, he became a Buddha or "Awakened One", finally found the answers he sought and experienced Nirvana. (Buddhism)

  • Dec. 16-24, Las Posadas (Mexico, Guatemala and other Central American countries). Las Posadas commemorate the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem and their search for a place to stay. Family and friends visit one another in their homes and enjoy conversations and traditional foods, and visitors sing carols. Colombians celebrate a similar holiday called “La Novena”, and for nine days, families pray and sing traditional carols.

  • Dec. 26, Kwanzaa is a week-long celebration held in the United States and in other nations of the Western African diaspora in the Americas. The celebration honors African heritage in African-American culture, and is observed from December 26 to January 1, culminating in a feast and gift-giving. Kwanzaa has seven core principles (Nguzo Saba). It was created by Maulana Karenga, and was first celebrated in 1966–67.



  • Shabbat The Jewish Sabbath—Shabbat in Hebrew, Shabbos in Yiddish—is observed every week beginning at sunset on Friday evening and ending after dark on Saturday evening. For religiously observant Jews, Shabbat is as important as any other holy day. Orthodox Jews do not work or travel on Shabbat. Consequently, Friday evening or Saturday classes or exams will generally pose a conflict for Orthodox Jewish students.

  • Rosh Hashanah The Jewish New Year, the beginning of ten days of penitence or teshuvah culminating on Yom Kippur. Traditionally celebrated with sweet or round foods such as apples and honey, and the blowing of the shofar, a hollowed-out ram's horn, during religious services. A customary greeting is shanah tovah or "happy new year!"

  • Yom Kippur The Day of Atonement; a very solemn day devoted to fasting, prayer, and repentance. Observant Jews do not eat, drink (including water), bathe, engage in sexual activity, or wear anything made of leather on this day of awe. Learn more about the High Holy Days

  • Sukkot The week-long harvest festival of Sukkot, or "Feast of Tabernacles," commemorates the dwelling of the Israelites in temporary booths (sukkot in Hebrew) during their 40-year sojourn in the Sinai desert. Many families build their own sukkah in which it is customary to eat meals and sleep, and to shake the lulav, a palm frond bound together with myrtle and willow branches, and the etrog, a kind of citrus (pictured here, growing in the Smith College greenhouse, where it is identified as a "Moroccan citrus"). Photo of etrog by Larry Goldbaum.

  • Learn more about Sukkot

  • Shemini Atzeret Although technically a separate holiday, Shemini Atzeret (or the "Eighth Day of Assembly") is in effect the final day of Sukkot. The last portion of the Torah is read on this day. Observant Jews do not work or travel on this yom tov or "holy day."

  • Simchat Torah Shemini Atzeret is immediately followed by the joyous holiday of Simchat Torah—or "rejoicing of the Law"—which is traditionally celebrated by dancing with Torah scrolls and singing hakafot, songs of praise and gratitude.

  • Hanukkah The eight-day festival of Hanukkah—or "Festival of Lights"—commemorates the miraculous victory of the Maccabees and rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem. Hanukkah is NOT the Jewish equivalent of Christmas!! In fact, it is a relatively minor Jewish holiday (in religious terms) which unlike most other Jewish holidays, has no restrictions whatsoever on work or travel—although many Jewish families and communities get together to celebrate this festive holiday. It is customary to eat fried foods such as potato latkes or jelly doughnuts. Photo of Hanukkah menorah (or 'chanukiah' in Hebrew) by Larry Goldbaum

  • Purim This carnival-like holiday celebrates the defeat of a plot to destroy the Jews of Persia. It is customary to dress in costumes (similar to Halloween or Mardi Gras), and to give gifts of food to friends and the needy, particularly hamantashen, triangular pastries filled with fruit or poppy seeds.

  • Passover (or Pesach in Hebrew) The week-long spring festival of Pesach commemorates the deliverance of the Jewish people from bondage in ancient Egypt. The Passover Seder on the first two nights—an elaborate and ritualized meal—recounts the story of Exodus using ritual foods, prayers, stories and songs. Only the first two and last two days of Passover are observed as full holy days, with restrictions on work and travel. However, many extended Jewish families gather for the holiday, and consequently some Jewish students may miss the entire week of classes. (In Israel, schools are always closed for Passover.)

  • Shavuot Feast of Weeks; marks the giving of the Law (Torah) at Mt Sinai.


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  • Dashiki Friday - Started by the Black Running Organization of Baltimore, Dashiki Friday encourages black people to wear authentic dashikis and engage in social activities that support black-owned businesses. Dashiki Friday can be celebrated every Friday of the year. Participants are encouraged to use #DashikiFriday when posting pictures on social media.



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  • The Five Pillars of Islam are:

  • SHAHADAH.: Faith - “There is no god except Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah”.

  • SALAH: Prayer - Praying five times a day.

  • ZAKAH: Donate - Each year, Muslims are supposed to donate a fixed proportion of their savings for good deeds.

  • SAWM: Fasting - Fasting during the month of Ramadan.

  • HAJJ: Pilgrimage - Making a pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in the lifetime of a Muslim, if it is affordable.

  • Key dates in Islamic calendar 2020

  • Laylat al-Miraj - Sunday, March 22, 2020

  • Shab e Barat (or Lailat al Bara'a)- Thursday April 9, 2020

  • Grand Mawlid Birmingham - Sunday, April 26 (arranged on Gregorian equivalent to Islamic date - see below)

  • Ramadan - Friday, April 24 to Saturday May 23, 2020

  • Laylat al-Qadr - Tuesday May 19, 2020

  • Chaand Raat - Saturday May 23, 2020

  • Eid al-Fitr - Monday May 25, 2020

  • Hajj - Tuesday, July 28 to Sunday August 2, 2020

  • Day of Arafah - Thursday July 30, 2020

  • Eid al-Adha - Friday July 31, 2020

  • Eid al-Ghadir - Saturday August 8, 2020

  • Eid al-Mubahalah - Friday August 14, 2020

  • Islamic New Year (first day of Muharram, start of year 1442) - August 20, 2020

  • Day of Ashura - Saturday, August 29, 2020

  • Arba'een - Thursday, October 8, 2020

  • Milad or Mawlid al-Nabi (Muhammad’s birthday) - Thursday, October 29, 2020 ALL

  • All religious holidays (most)

  • Also lists religious holidays -



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