Filed under: Art, coexistence, Foto Friday, General, History and Culture, Holidays, Life, Picture of the Week, Religion, Travel
Today’s weather was sunny, crisp and clear — not your classic Christmas Eve weather but prefect for pilgrims to wander through Jerusalem’s Christian Quarter. As in all other parts of the Old City, the Quarter takes travelers on a winding trail from site to site to holy site. For those living far away, here is a virtual tour of the city’s church gates — all will be open tonight for worshipers to celebrate the Midnight Mass.
Church of the Holy Sepulcher
This historic church shelters the holiest site in the Christian faith: the tomb where Christ was buried and rose from the dead. It is shared by several denominations.
© Gennadi Zimmerman
Church of the Redeemer
The Lutheran Church of the Redeemer is the only Protestant church in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was commissioned by Prussian Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, who was given the site by the Turkish Sultan upon his visit to Jerusalem.in 1869.
Notre Dame Pilgrim Center of Jerusalem
Dating back to 1885 when its cornerstone was first laid, the building was heavily damaged during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, rendering it partially uninhabitable. For years it served as an Israeli guard post but in 1972 was restored to its original status and the chapel rededicated to public worship in 1978. The mission entrusted to it by Pope John Paul II: “Dedicated to Our Lady of Jerusalem, Queen of Peace… as a place of fruitful spiritual development.”
Church of the Pater Noster
Built on the place where tradition says Jesus instructed his disciples in prayer. The walls of this convent church are inscribed with the Lord’s Prayer in 44 languages.
Filed under: A New Reality, Environment
Jews in Israel and the world over are busy now celebrating Passover, while Christians ready themselves for Easter. Iranians, we learn had their own celebrations this time of the year, coinciding with the vernal equinox on March 21.
Iran’s political makeup and leadership may not be making many friends these days, but its annual festival Nowruz, or the Persian New Year festival, is being celebrated in a number of countries, and by several different religions as well.
Nowruz spelled also Nowrouz or Nouruz, which means “New Day” in Persian, officially marks the first day of Spring in the Persian calendar and corresponds to the Spring Equinox which is marked on Western calendars as March 21.
The holiday is not only celebrated by the Iranians, but also by countries in Central Asia, South Asia, Western China, The Crimea, and by a number of ethnic groups in Balkan countries such as Albania, Kosovo, and Macedonia. The holiday marks the period when the sun crosses the celestial equator and creates equal day and night.
The sun and fire are important elements in the ancient Persian religion of Zoroaster and the festival is observed by this ancient monotheistic faith. In fact, Nowruz is one of the seven most important Zoroastrian festivals the festival is also observed by the much newer Bahai faith which also has its origins in Iran.
The founder of the Bahai religion, Bahalulah, placed much importance on the observance of this annual change of seasons and Bahai faith members the world over eagerly await this event.
Legend has it that this festival, which has it origins in ancient Persia around 600 BCE, is the basis for the Jewish festival of Purim which also comes around this time and is based on the lunar calendar. The festival is celebrated by a number of Muslim communities, including among the Alewite and Alevi sects.
Signifying rebirth, some of the main customs of the holiday includes spring cleaning and inter-family visitation.
As in other holidays that celebrate the New Year, it is believed that what people do on Nowruz will affect them for the remainder of the year. Certain flowers such as tulips and hycinths are placed in the home. Like before Jewish holidays, new clothing is also purchased. Another nice custom involves something sweet being hidden somewhere outside the home, and whoever finds its and brings it inside will have a better year. Families also visit the graves of loved ones on the last Thursday or Friday of the old year proceeding festival.
Faith plays an important role in spreading environmental awareness, and joint environmental concerns can unite faiths. Nowrouz and its many derivations means so much to so many people, it may yet be an excellent ecological “bridge” to unite peoples the world over.
This post was written by Maurice Picow and first appeared on the Middle East environment news site Green Prophet. To subscribe to the newsletter send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Image via Hamed Saber]
Filed under: Art, coexistence, Foto Friday, General, Religion
Photographer Guy Raivitz recently announced a new work in progress, “Holy Land”, in which he explores the three major religions that put Jerusalem and the land of Israel at their center. Each one of these photos is part of a larger series.
A Coptic nun at the door of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem. Photo: Guy Raivitz
Ravitz is interested in the internal process of worship and how it is exernalized.
‘Lag Ba’omer’ celebrations, Mt. Meron northern Israel. Photo: Guy Raivitz
Muslim man praying near Temple mount, Jerusalem. Photo: Guy Raivitz
He is respectful of his subjects, always bearing in mind that what they are doing is not for show. To see more of “Holy Land”, visit Guy’s website.