Saturday, December 4, 1999

By Ken Sakamoto, Star-Bulletin
Preschool children at Temple Emanu-El light candles on
the Hanukkah menorah yesterday. The eight-day "festival
of lights" commemorates the rededication of a temple in
165 BC that had been desecrated.

Expressions of faith
light up the islands

From self-denial to celebrating
miracles, the season's religious
happenings serve to remind
that it's not all about the mall

By Mary Adamski


Hawaii will be graced with a rainbow of spiritual awareness next week as believers mark key events across a spectrum of religions:

Bullet Today is the beginning of the eight days of Hanukkah, a Jewish celebration of dedication and religious freedom.
Bullet Wednesday is Bodhi Day, when Buddhists commemorate Buddha's achieving enlightenment.
Bullet The Muslim community will begin Thursday to observe Ramadan, a month of fasting dedicated to growing in self-restraint and generosity.
Bullet It is the second week of Advent, the traditional Christian season of repentance and hope in preparation for Christmas.

Buddhists of several denominations will join in a 9 a.m. service tomorrow at Soto Mission of Hawaii, 1708 Nuuanu Ave. The Hawaii Buddhist Council's annual Bodhi Day service will feature Richard Pau'u, founding president of the Hawaii Association of International Buddhists, as speaker.

The day Buddha reached the state of enlightenment while sitting under a Bodhi tree about 2,500 years ago is one of the December religious events commemorated with booths decorated by private organizations in the midst of the city's Honolulu City Lights extravaganza. Mililani Hongwanji erected the glittering display on the lawn near City Hall.

Nearby is a giant eight-candle menorah, which will be kindled in a 6:30 p.m. ceremony tomorrow. Hot potato pancakes called latkes, a traditional Hanukkah treat, will be served to the public. The festivities sponsored by Chabad of Hawaii will include music by children from the organization's Cheder Hebrew School. Chabad also will display a menorah at the Waikiki Gateway Park.

Jewish families celebrate at family gatherings, lighting a candle each day and distributing gifts to children. The 'festival of lights' marks a victory for religious freedom and a miracle.

In 165 BC, a small band of Hebrew fighters was victorious against the ruling Assyrians who had forbidden Jewish religious practices and desecrated the temple in Jerusalem. Trying to rekindle the menorah, the Hebrews found only a small jar of pure oil. Enough for only one day's burning, the oil continued to burn eight days as the temple was rededicated to the service of God.

The other private displays at Honolulu City Lights are decorated in Christian themes by Door of Faith Church, the Lutheran Campus Ministry and Good Shepherd Lutheran Church.

Sharing simple meals

Advent services in anticipation of Christmas are scheduled in several Christian churches next week and through the month. The 6 p.m. Wednesday soup supper at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church on University Avenue is typical.

"Advent, like Lent, is penetential in character, a time when people demonstrate a sense of self-denial," said the Rev. Tom Windsor, Our Redeemer pastor. "Traditionally people would have very basic meals and put money aside to the poor or some charity. The experience of sharing simple soup and broken bread prior to worship is a very bonding one."

Windsor said the Wednesday observance will include an ancient service of light, "the candlelight symbolizing a sense of welcoming the arrival of Christ, whom we call the light of the world."

Thursday begins a month of austerity for Muslims who strive to fast from food, drink and other sensual pleasures from dawn to sunset every day. Throughout the year Oahu Muslims gather at the Manoa mosque for sunset prayers, and during Ramadan the crowd grows, said Rashid Abdullah. "Each night the Taraweeh is recited, a special prayer during Ramadan. Essentially, one-thirtieth of the Koran recited each night."

Abdullah said that it is traditional to break the fast together with three dates and milk but in Hawaii, that tradition is often expanded into a potluck supper. He said that the gathering after prayers to share food and fellowship is typical of Muslim congregations in the United States.

Ramadan is one of the Five Pillars, or fundamental obligations of the faith which Muhammed began in 610 A.D. It is set to begin with the new moon of the ninth lunar month and thus, the timing shifts from year to year.

Marian celebration
next weekend

Star-Bulletin staff


Hawaii's Hispanic Catholics in the costumes of their homelands will lead a colorful procession in celebration of the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe during a Marian Conference next weekend at the Blaisdell Center arena.

Organizers say more than 1,000 people are expected to attend the three-day event. It is sponsored by St. Michael Center, an organization of Catholics, but is open to the general public.

Highlights of the conference, which has the theme "Jesus Yesterday, Today and Forever," will include a healing Mass at 6 p.m. next Saturday and an 8 a.m. Sunday procession into the arena by people wearing the costumes of ethnic groups and countries of the Americas.

The Rev. Pablo Straub, a Redemptorist priest who works in rural Mexico, will speak at the conference, which will open at 6 p.m. Friday and at 8 a.m. next Saturday and Sunday.

Other speakers will be the Rev. Michael Ross of Ireland, who has a prayer and healing ministry; the Rev. Donald Higgins of Massachusetts, a popular speaker at religious conferences around the country; the Rev. Stephen Barham of California, a Melkite Greek Catholic priest involved in the Catholic renewal movement; and the Rev. Andrew Mannetta, a Franciscan priest on Oahu.

The registration fee is $25 per person, with special rates for couples, families, senior citizens and youngsters. For information, call St. Michael Center, 943-7088.

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