World Religion Day was started in 1950 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’í of the United States. Its purpose was to promote unity through an understanding among all religions and faiths. Today, there are an estimated 4,200 religions worldwide. World Religion Day is often celebrated on the third Sunday of January, around the same time Martin Luther King Day is observed.
The Bahá’í faith had beginnings in 1819 in Persia (Iran) with the first of two divine messengers. In 1844 this faith was founded by Christian, Jewish, and Zoroastrian believers. Zoroastrians were followers of a pre-Islamic religion in Persia. “Bahāʾīs believe in the oneness of humanity and devote themselves to the abolition of racial, class, and religious prejudices.” This faith has three core beliefs: unity of god, religion, and people.
On the same day as World Religion Day, Makar Sankranti, a Hindu festival honoring the sun god, is celebrated. This religious festival falls on January 14 or 15 each year. It is also known as the kite-flying festival during which colorful kites are flown to be closer to the heavens. A now less practiced tradition is that of wearing black clothing to soak in the sun’s rays. This festival also highlights the harvest that follows winter. During this festival people take religious baths in the holy rivers including the Ganga, Yamuna, Godavari to wash away sins and make way for prosperity. People also perform charity and make donations during this religious event.
Would you like to learn more about different faiths from a personal perspective? Here’s an opportunity:
Content warnings: references to suicide, violence, genocide, sexual abuse.
Daniel Epstein created Portraits in Faith after interviewing 400 people in 25 countries over seven years. This is an absolutely moving video introduction (8 minutes) to Portraits in Faith showcasing people from around the world sharing vulnerable moments and their connection to God and their faith. Individuals from diverse experiences and backgrounds, including a historical connection to Harriet Tubman, death metal music, a holocaust survivor, and others who share their stories of finding faith.
Here’s a free online event celebrating World Religion Day:
This is a free 90minute inter-faith event focused on peace-making across all faiths. Speakers representing various religious will share their traditions. This event will include scared reading, prayer, music videos, interactive chat, and more.
Interested in learning about the mental health benefits of faith, religion, and spirituality? NAMI explores the research outlining the benefits of community and connections, structure and coping skills, and guidelines for compassion, forgiveness, and gratitude.