Muslims contribute of 23% of the world population: 1.57Billion people globally are Muslim out of which 2.7 Million resides in UK. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar; Muslims worldwide observe this as a month of fasting. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam. While fasting from dawn until sunset, Muslims refrain from consuming food, drinking liquids, smoking, and engaging in sexual relations; in some interpretations they also refrain from swearing. Food and drink is served daily, before sunrise and after sunset. According to Islam, rewards of fasting are many, but in this month they are believed to be multiplied. Fasting for Muslims during Ramadan typically includes the increased offering of prayers.
Eid is called Feast of Breaking the Fast, the Sugar Feast, Bayram, the Sweet Festival and the Lesser Eid, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting The religious Eid is a single day and Muslims are not permitted to fast on that day. The day of Eid, therefore, falls on the first day of the month of Shawwal. This is a day when Muslims around the world show a common goal of unity.
Chinese New Year is an important traditional Chinese holiday celebrated at the turn of the Chinese calendar. It falls between January to mid- February. In China, it is also known as the, Spring Festival, the literal translation of the modern Chinese name. Chinese New Year celebrations traditionally run from Chinese New Year’s Eve, the last day of the last month of the Chinese calendar, to the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month, making the festival the longest in the Chinese calendar. Because the Chinese calendar is lunisolar, the Chinese New Year is often referred to as the “Lunar New Year”.
African-Caribbean communities organise and participate in Caribbean Carnivals (Caribbean style carnivals) throughout the UK. The best known of these is the annual Notting Hill Carnival, attracting up to 1.5 million people from Britain and around the world, making it the largest street festival in Europe. The carnival began in 1964 as a small procession of Trinidadians in memory of festivals in their home country. Leeds West Indian Carnival is Europe’s oldest West Indian carnival and now attracts around 130,000 people. Other carnivals include the Leicester Caribbean Carnival and the Birmingham International Carnival.
Every year Diwali is celebrated by various South Asian communities. The first Diwali was celebrated by Hindus to celebrate the return of the Rama, King of Ayodhya, his wife Sita and brother Lakshmana to Koshala after a war in which he killed the demon Ravana. It was getting dark, so along the way people lit oil lamps to light their way.
Diwali is a festival symbolising the destruction of evil forces.
The festival of Diwali has begun to find acceptance into the broader British national consciousness as more non-Hindus appreciate and celebrate Hinduism on this occasion. Over the past decade national and civic leaders such as Prince Charles have attended Diwali celebrations at some of UK’s prominent Hindu temples, such as the Swaminarayan Temple in Neasden, using the occasion to commend the Hindu community’s contributions to British life. The yearly celebration, begun by Gordon Brown and continued by David Cameron is one of the most anticipated events hosted by the British Prime Minister. In the East End of London, a kind of joint festival has evolved where everyone enjoys the same fire and fireworks for their own diverse reasons.
Rosh Hashanah is the Day of Memorial or Remembrance and the Day of Judgment God appears in the role of King, remembering and judging each person individually according to his/her deeds, and making a decree for each person for the following year. Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year for Jews. Its central theme is atonement and reconciliation. This is accomplished through prayer and complete fasting—including abstinence from all food and drink by all healthy adults.
Purim Katan is observed on the 14th and 15th of First Adar in leap years. These days are marked by a small increase in festivity, including a prohibition on fasting, and slight changes in the liturgy. Passover the “Festival of Unleavened Bread”, is one of the Three Pilgrimage Festivals mentioned in the Bible. Passover commemorates the liberation of the Israelite slaves from Egypt. No chametz (leavened food) is eaten, or even owned, during the week of Passover, in commemoration of the fact that the Israelites left Egypt so quickly that their bread did not have enough time to rise.
Amongst UK based Poles, the main religion is Catholicism and leading festivals are linked to the church. In addition to Christmas day, New Year’s day and then Easter. Sixty days later, Corpus Christi is both a national and religious holiday. Back home, it is marked by religious processions through towns and villages, prayer, and attendance of church services. Most Corpus Christi processions begin around noon and collect followers along their route. Bystanders can also watch the procession from the sidelines. All Saints’ Day is followed by All Souls’ Day (November 2nd), and it’s the evening between these two days that past generations believed that the deceased would visit the living. Poles are the third largest foreign born community after Irish and Indian born people in Britain and the Polish language is the second most spoken language in England and the third most spoken language in Britain after English and Welsh, with 1% of Britain’s population now speaking Polish. It is not unusual for Polish households to install their own satellite dishes to receive Polsat services directly from Polish platforms (including festival coverage).