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Faith events

Each year faith groups across the borough organise or participate in a range of events and projects to celebrate and promote significant religious occasions within the borough. The calendar below highlights a number of days of significance in 2021 for the following faiths: Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Paganism, Rastafarianism, Shinto, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism.

Not all of these events will be marked by the council, however faith organisations, charities and community groups play an important role in ensuring that we support the delivery of the events that are most important to our residents. One of the aims of the Borough Manifesto is greater community cohesion and ensuring that change in our community is resident led.

The council works with the Barking & Dagenham Faith Forum to support events, where possible, which have particular significance to residents in the borough.

Who are the Barking & Dagenham Faith Forum?

The Barking & Dagenham Faith Forum (BDFF) are a network of local faith leaders, people of faith and others who live and work in the borough. They are passionate about promoting good relationships between people from different backgrounds and want to work together to improve the lives of local residents.

The BDFF meet monthly to discuss initiatives that:

  • educate the public in different religious beliefs. Including an awareness of their distinct features, and their common ground, to promote good relations between persons of different faiths and non-faith
  • promote knowledge, mutual understanding and respect of the beliefs and practices of different faiths and non-faith
  • provide a local network that encourages and enables members of faith communities to participate more effectively in the wider community
  • increase, or co-coordinate, opportunities for members of faith communities to engage with service providers and to enable those providers to adapt services to better meet the needs of faith communities

Due to the current pandemic, many events are unable to take place in person and we have had to change the way we have delivered our activity. Despite this, we have supported many events in partnership, including the Interfaith Week 2020 programme and inaugural Faith & Community Awards.

Please remember:

  • dates used are correct to the best of our knowledge
  • some may vary regionally because they are determined by the lunar calendar
  • some may be subject to confirmation of sighting of the crescent moon
  • some may begin the evening before the listed

Barking and Dagenham Faith Forum

January Toggle accordion

  • 1 January - Gantan-sai - Start of three day celebrations to mark the New Year
  • 1 January - Birth of Guru Gobind Singh - Tenth Sikh Guru and the last one in human form; founded the Brotherhood of the Pure (Khalsa)
  • 5 January - Birthday of Holy Mother Sarada Devi - Commemorates the birthday of the Hindu mystic and saint
  • 6 January - Epiphany - Celebrates the visit of the Three Wise Men (Magi) to the infant Jesus
  • 7 January - Christmas Day (celebrated in Ethiopia) - Celebrated on this day to coincide with Christmas in Ethiopia 
  • 7 January - Christmas Day (Eastern Orthodox) - Celebrated on this day by Eastern Orthodox Christians
  • 12 January - Birthday of Swami Vivekananda - Celebrates the birth of one of the most celebrated spiritual leaders of India
  • 14 January - Maghi/Lohri - Celebrates the sacrifice of the 40 Sikhs who fought for Guru Gorbind & is celebrated with bonfires
  • 27 January - Tu B’Shevat - Marks the beginning of the ‘new year’ for trees. 
  • 28 January - Holocaust Memorial Day - Remembering the millions of people killed in the Holocaust

February Toggle accordion

  • 2 February - Imbolc - Honours the goddess Brigid and marks the return of Spring
  • 2 February - Candlemas - Commemorates the presentation of the baby Jesus in the Jerusalem Temple and the purification of his mother after giving birth
  • 3 February - Setsubun - Part of the Spring festival with special ritual to ward off evil
  • 12 February - Chinese New Year - Year of the Ox - Most important of the traditional Chinese holidays
  • 15 February - Parinirvana - Celebration to mark the final passing of the Buddha (may be celebrated by some on 8 February instead depending on culture)
  • 16 February - Saraswati Puja - Celebrating the Goddess Saraswati - the goddess of knowledge
  • 16 February - Shrove Tuesday - The day of preparation for Lent (the 40 days leading up to Easter), traditionally marked by eating pancakes
  • 17 February - Ash Wednesday - First day of Lent. Many Christians receive a cross of ash on their foreheads in church as a symbol of mortality and penance
  • 25-28 February - Ayyám-i-Há - Intercalary days
  • 25 February - Nineteen Day Fast - Adults fast from sunrise to sunset for 19 days; important time for prayer, reflection and spiritual renewal

March Toggle accordion

  • 1 March - St David’s Day - Commemorates the patron Saint of Wales
  • 10 March - Isra and Mi’raj - Commemorates the Prophet Muhammad’s journey from Mecca to Jerusalem and his ascent into heaven
  • 11 March - Maha Shivaratri Festival  - Celebrated in reverence of Lord Shiva
  • 15 March - Birthday of Sri Ramakrishna - Celebrating the birth of the Hindu incarnation of God
  • 17 March - St Patrick’s Day - Commemorates the patron Saint of Ireland. 
  • 20 March - Spring Equinox - Celebration of Spring. 
  • 21-22 March - Naw-Rúz - End of the 19 day fast and the beginning of the Baha’i New Year. 
  • 26 March - Purim - Celebration of Jewish deliverance as told in the Book of Esther 
  • 26 March - Khordad Sal - Celebrating the birth date of Zoroaster. 
  • 28 March - Magha Puja - Takes place on the full moon day commemorating the life of the Buddha
  • 28 March - Birthday of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu - Celebrating the birth of the Hindu mystic and saint
  • 28 March - Palm Sunday - The first day of Holy Week, commemorating Jesus’ triumphal arrival in Jerusalem before his arrest and death
  • 29-30 March - Holi - Festival of colour marking the end of winter

April Toggle accordion

  • 1 April - Maundy Thursday - Commemorates the Last Supper
  • 2 April - Good Friday - Commemorates the death of Jesus by crucifixion
  • 4 April - Easter Day - Christians celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. The Easter season lasts for 50 days to Pentecost
  • 8 April - Hanamatsuri - Flower festival celebrating the birthday of Shakyamuni, whose teachings form the basis of Buddhism
  • 8 April - Yom HaShoah - Anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, serves as a day of remembrance for those who perished in the Shoah (Holocaust)
  • 8 April - Wesak - Celebration of Buddha’s enlightenment
  • 13 April - Vaisakhi - Marks the creation of Sikhism and the ordination of the Khalsa
  • 13 April - Ramadan - Starts the most significant month for Muslims. Marks a period of daily fasting from dawn to sunset

May Toggle accordion

  • 1 May - Beltan - Celebration of fertility marking the beginning of Summer
  • 2 May - Easter Day (Orthodox Christianity) - Based on the Julian calendar
  • 9 May - Laylat al-Qadr - Marks the night in which the Qur’an was first revealed
  • 13 May - Ascension Day - Marks the ascension of Jesus Christ to Heaven after he rose from the dead on Easter Sunday
  • 13-14 May - Eid al-Fitr - After the end of Ramadan with an additional morning congregational prayer in the mosque
  • 17-18 May - Shavuot - Celebrates the giving of the Torah (Five Books of Moses), the first harvest, and the ripening of the first fruits
  • 23-24 May - Declaration of the Báb - Celebrates the Báb’s declaration of his mission as the messenger of God
  • 23 May - Pentecost/Whitsun - Marks the appearance of the Holy Spirit
  • 28 May - Ascension of Bahá’u’lláh - Commemorates death of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í faith

June Toggle accordion

  • 16 June - Martyrdom of the Guru Arjan Dev - Commemorates the fifth Sikh Guru and first Sikh martyr
  • 24 June - Midsummer’s Day - A celebration of the sun’s power on the longest day of the year
  • 29 June - Feast of Saints Peter and Paul - Observed by Roman Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans

July Toggle accordion

  • 9 July - Martyrdom of the Báb - Commemorates the Báb’s execution in 1850, after which his teachings continued to spread
  • 12 July - Rath Yatra - Public procession and chariot festival
  • 17-22 July - The Hajj - Once in a lifetime pilgrimage to Makkah; is the largest gathering of Muslims anywhere in the world
  • 18 July - Tisha B’Av - Anniversary of the destruction of the Temple of Solomon by Nebuchadnezzar and of the Second Temple by Titus
  • 19 July - Yawm Arafat 2nd day of Hajj, day of repentance and acceptance of supplications, many non pilgrims fast on this holiest day in Islam
  • 20-24 July - Eid al-Adha - Marks the sacrifice made by Prophet Abraham
  • 23 July - Birthday of Emperor Halle Selassie I - A holy day of commemoration for Rastafarians
  • 24 July - Guru Purnima Day - An Indian and Nepalese festival dedicated to spiritual and academic teachers
  • 24 July - Asalha-Dharma Day Commemorates Buddha’s first teaching to the five ascetics in the Deer Park near Benares, India

August Toggle accordion

  • 1 August - Lughnasadh - Marks the first day of harvest
  • 9-10 August - First day of Muharram - Start of Islamic year 1443
  • 18-19 August - Ashura - Marks the tenth day of Muharram as the day Allah saved Moses from the Pharaoh
  • 22 August - Raksha Bandhan - Celebrates the love and duty between sisters and brothers
  • 29 August - The Blessed Virgin Mary - Celebration of the mother of Jesus, Catholic Christians keep this day as Mary’s Assumption into heaven before death
  • 30 August - Janmashtami - Celebrates the birthday of Lord Krishna, believed to have shown himself in human form 5,000 years ago

September Toggle accordion

  • 7-8 September - Rosh Hashanah - The Jewish New Year, marks the start of ten days of repentance, ending on Yom Kippur
  • 10 September - Ganesh Chaturthi - Festival that commemorates God Ganesha’s birthday
  • 11 September - Samvatsari - Holiest day of the Jain calendar, spent in prayers and contemplation
  • 11 September - Enkutatash - The Ethiopian New Year, celebrations of prayer and colourful processions
  • 16 September - Yom Kippur - Holiest day of the Jewish calendar, marked by a 25-hour fast and solemn prayer to repent for the previous year’s sins
  • 21-26 September - Sukkot Tabernacles or Feast of Booths
  • 21 September - International Day of Peace - A day devoted to strengthening the ideals of peace among and within all nations
  • 22 September - Shūbun-Sai - A day for visiting graves
  • 22 September - Autumn Equinox - Ritual of thanksgiving
  • 28 September - Shemini Atzeret - The eighth day of Solemn Assembly
  • 29 September - Simchat - Torah Celebrates and marks the conclusion of the annual cycle of public Torah reading

October Toggle accordion

  • 7-16 October - Navratri - Ten days of ceremonies, rituals, fasts and feasts in honour of the supreme mother of Goddess
  • 15 October - Durga Puja-Dussehra - End of Navratri. 19 Lakshmi Puja - Most important day of Diwali devoted to Goddess Lakshmi
  • 20 October - First reading of Guru Granth Sahib - The Sikh scripture is installed at the Golden Temple for the first time
  • 21 October to 4 November - Mahalaya - Marks the beginning of Navratri and Durga Puja
  • 31October to 1 November - Samhain - Marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter

November Toggle accordion

  • 1 November - All Saints Day - Honours all Saints in Christian history
  • 2 November - All Souls Day - Commemorates the faithful departed, family members and friends who have died
  • 4 November - Bandi Chhor Divas - Commemorates the peaceful release of 52 kings and princes by sixth Sikh Guru (Guru Hargobind) darkness and knowledge over ignorance
  • 4 November - Diwali - Festival of lights symbolising the victory of light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance
  • 6-7 November - Birth of the Báb - Celebrates the birthday of The Bab, forerunner, who prepared their way for Baha’u’llah
  • 6-7 November - Birth of Bahá’u’lláh - One of the twin founders of the Baha’i faith, who was born in 1817
  • 7-14 November - Inter Faith Week - A week to focus on inter faith understanding and cooperation
  • 14 November - Remembrance Sunday - Commemorating the contribution of military service people in the two World Wars and later conflicts
  • 15 November - Shichi-Go-San - Festival celebrating the growth and well-being of young children
  • 18 November - Guru Nanak Gururab - Celebrates the birth of the first Sikh guru
  • 19-20 November - Mawlid - Observance of the birthday of prophet Muhammed 
  • 19 November - Sangha Day - Celebration in honour of the Sangha, and a chance for people to reaffirm their commitment to Buddhist practices and traditions
  • 24 November - Martyrdom of Guru Tegh Bahadur - Commemorates the 9th Sikh guru who undertook the sacrifice for protection of the oppressed
  • 26-27 November - Day of the Covenant - When Bahá’is celebrate the appointment of `Abdu’l-Bahá as the Centre of Baha’u’llah’s Covenant
  • 28 November - Ascension of `Abdu’l-Bahá - Commemorates the death of `Abdu’l-Bahá. 
  • 28 November - Advent Sunday - The first day of the season of Advent
  • 29 November to 6 December - Chanukah - Celebrates the rededication of Jerusalem’s Second Temple and the miracle of its menorah, which was kept alight for eight days with one day’s oil
  • 30 November - Saint Andrew’s Day - Feast day of the patron saint of Scotland

December Toggle accordion

  • 8 December - Bodhi Day - Commemorates the day that the historical Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (Shakyamuni) experienced enlightenment
  • 14 December - Geeta Jayanti - Commemorates the birthday of Bhagvad Gita, the sacred text of Hindu
  • 24 December - Christmas Eve - Time for preparation for Christmas
  • 25 December - Christmas Day - Commemorates the birth of Jesus Christ and is widely celebrated by the exchanging of gifts 
  • 16-27 December - Feast of Ridván - Start of festival commemorating the commencement of Baha’u’llah’s prophethood
  • 21 December - Ram Navami - Celebrates the founding of the Khalsa, the Brotherhood of the Pure by Guru Gobind Singh
  • 23 December - St George’s Day - Commemorates the patron Saint of England
  • 24 December - Ninth Day of Ridván - Day when Baha’u’llah’s family joined him at the Najibiyyih Garden, Baghdad
  • 25 December - Mahavir Jayanti - Celebrates the birth of Lord Mahavira, the last Tirthankara (saviour)
  • 27 December - Hanuman Jayanti - Celebrated to commemorate the birth of Hanuman
  • 28 December to 4 January - Passover - Celebrates the Exodus, the freedom from slavery of the Children of Israel from ancient Egypt that followed the Ten Plagues
  • 27 December - Twelfth Day of Ridvan - Close of the festival