September 5, 2016! What a Day it Was?

September 5, 2016! What a Day it Was?

September 5, 2016! What a Day it Was? So much to CELEBRATE ! So much to be THANKFUL FOR!-by Fr Cedric Prakash Sj

GANESH CHATURTHI – was the festival celebrated by Hindus across the world in honour of Lord Ganesha (the God with the head of an elephant). On this day, devotees prayed to the God for prosperity and unhindered new beginnings. Also known as ‘Vinayak Chaturthi’ or ‘Vinayaka Chavithi’ the festival is celebrated during the Hindu month of Bhadra (mid-August to mid-September), ending on the 14th day of the fortnight, called ‘Ananta Chaturdashi’. During the festival, local communities put up public pandals for mass worship, while families bring home small clay idols to pray. When the festivities end (this year, it will culminate on September 13), the idols are immersed in large bodies of water where they disintegrate over time.

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Ganesh Chaturthi – praying for wisdom, prosperity and togetherness. For Lokmanya Tilak, an important festival to unite people against Foreign domination!

SAMVATSARI- Samvatsari (International Forgiveness Day) is the last day of Paryushana —the eight days festival of Jainism. It is the holiest day of the Jain calendar. Many Jains observe a complete fast on this day. The whole day is spent in prayers and contemplation. A yearly, elaborate penitential retreat called samvatsari pratikramana is performed on this day. After the pratikramana, Jains seek forgiveness from all the creatures of the world whom they may have harmed knowingly or unknowingly by uttering the phrase—Micchami Dukkadam, “Khamau Sa” , or “Khamat Khamna”. As a matter of ritual, they personally greet their friends and relatives Micchami Dukkadam. No private quarrel or dispute may be carried beyond Samvatsari and messages , telephone calls are made to the outstation friends and relatives asking their forgiveness.

Samvatsari – a Day of FORGIVENESS! Saying ‘MICCHAMI DUKKADAM” -with our Jain sisters and brothers. In this YEAR OF MERCY – forgiving others , asking for forgiveness!

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TEACHERS DAY- is a special day for the appreciation of teachers, and may include celebrations to honor them for their special contributions in a particular field area, or the community in general. The date on which Teachers’ Day is celebrated varies from country to country. Teachers’ days in different countries are distinct from World Teachers’ Day, which is celebrated on 5 October. The idea of celebrating Teachers’ Day took root in many countries during the 20th century; in most cases, they celebrate a local educator or an important milestone in education (for example, Argentina has commemorated Domingo Faustino Sarmiento’s death on 11 September since 1915, while India has celebrated the birthday of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (5 September) since 1962, although Hindus, Jains and Buddhists have been honouring teachers by celebrating Guru Purnimasince centuries. This is the primary reason why countries celebrate this day on different dates, unlike many other International Days.

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Teachers Day- President Radhakrishnan had a VISION for a pluralistic and inclusive India! He wanted that education becomes the instrument for this! As we CELEBRATE and express our GRATITUDE to every SINGLE TEACHER in our lives(beginning with our own MOTHERS) let us pledge to teach and live the values of JUSTICE, LIBERTY, EQUALITY, FRATERNITY, TRUTH and NON-VIOLENCE!

LABOUR DAY (in the US) – Labor Day in the United States is a public holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It honors the American labor movement and the contributions that workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country. It is the Monday of the long weekend known as Labor Day Weekend and it is considered the unofficial end of summer. The holiday is also a federal holiday. Beginning in the late 19th century, as the trade union and labor movements grew, trade unionists proposed that a day is set aside to celebrate labor. “Labor Day” was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, which organized the first parade in New York City. In 1887, Oregon was the first state of the United States to make it an official public holiday. By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty U.S. states officially celebrated Labor Day. Canada’s Labour Day is also celebrated on the first Monday of September. More than 80 countries celebrate International Workers’ Day on May 1 – the ancient European holiday of May Day – and several countries have chosen their own dates for Labour Day.

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Labor Day- although celebrated on a big scale in the US, but equally relevant for all of us! That we ensure employment for all and that we respect the DIGNITY of ALL LABOURERS treating them justly, with fair wages, timings of work and equity!

INTERNATIONAL DAY OF CHARITY – The International Day of Charity is observed annually on 5 September. It was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012. The prime purpose of the International Day of Charity is to raise awareness and provide a common platform for charity related activities all over the world for individuals, charitable, philanthropic and volunteer organizations for their own purposes on the local, national, regional and international level. The International Day of Charity was conceived as a Hungarian civil society initiative supported by the Hungarian Parliament and Government in 2011, to enhance visibility, organize special events, and in this way to increase solidarity, social responsibility and public support for the charity. September 5 was chosen in order to commemorate the anniversary of the passing away of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 “for work undertaken in the struggle to overcome poverty and distress, which also constitute a threat to peace.” In its resolution, the General Assembly invited the Member States, organizations of the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, stakeholders, as well as NGOs of the civil society, to commemorate the International Day of Charity in an appropriate manner, by encouraging charity, including through education and public awareness-raising activities.

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International Day of Charity- a reminder that we do SOMETHING – to reach out to the least of our sisters and brothers!

FEAST DAY of SAINT MOTHER TERESA- the Church celebrated the feast day of Mother Teresa, a universal symbol of God’s merciful and preferential love for the poor and forgotten. Mother Teresa joined the Sisters of Loretto at age 17 and was sent to Calcutta where she taught at a high school. She contracted Tuberculosis and was sent to rest in Darjeeling. It was on the train to Darjeeling that she received her calling – what she called “an order” from God to leave the convent and work and live among the poor. At this point, she did not know that she was to found an order of nuns, or even exactly where she was to serve. “I knew where I belonged, but I did not know how to get there,” she said once, recalling the moment on the train.

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Confirmation of the calling came when the Vatican granted her permission to leave the Sisters of Loretto and fulfill her calling under the Archbishop of Calcutta. She started working in the slums, teaching poor children, and treating the sick in their homes. She was joined a year later by some of her former students and together they took in men, women, and children who were dying in the gutters along the streets and cared for them. In 1950 the Missionaries of Charity were born as a congregation of the Diocese of Calcutta and in 1952 the government granted them a house from which to continue their service among Calcutta’s forgotten.

The congregation very quickly grew from a single house for the dying and unwanted to nearly 500 around the world. Mother Teresa set up homes for AIDS sufferers, for prostitutes, for battered women, and orphanages for poor children. She often said that the poorest of the poor were those who had no one to care for them and no one who knew them. And she often remarked with sadness and desolation of millions of souls in the developed world whose spiritual poverty and loneliness was such an immense cause of suffering.

She was a fierce defender of the unborn saying: “If you hear of some woman who does not want to keep her child and wants to have an abortion, try to persuade her to bring him to me. I will love that child, seeing in him the sign of God’s love.” Mother Teresa died on September 5, 1997 and was beatified only six years later, on October 19, 2003, and was canonized as Saint on 4 September 2016.

Mother Teresa once said, “A sacrifice to be real must cost, must hurt, must empty ourselves. The fruit of silence is prayer, the fruit of prayer is faith, the fruit of faith is love, the fruit of love is service, the fruit of service is peace.” She also said, “give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness.” Let us CELEBRATE her with concrete acts of compassion ! Let us SHARE HER SMILE to others too..

So September 5, 2016- WHAT A DAY- so much to CELEBRATE ! So much to BE THANKFUL FOR! Above all, SO MUCH MORE which NEEDS to be DONE NOW!

About the author:

Fr Cedric Prakash SJ is a human rights activist and is currently based in Lebanon and engaged with the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in the Middle East on advocacy and communications. He has been with Mother Teresa on several different occasions and was responsible for her visit to Ahmedabad in 1996. He is closely associated for more than thirty years with the Missionaries of Charity. He was in Rome for the Canonization Ceremony on September 4th.

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