Spiritual & Religious Life

The Department of Spiritual and Religious Life (SRL) seeks to empower individuals to identify, explore, and critically reflect upon the ways they, and others, make meaning of their life and the world. Students, staff, and faculty members are encouraged to recognize and strengthen their own personal spiritual resources to sustain their lives and communities and create a more just world.

SRL helps nurture spiritual and religious life at Mills through regular programming, annual events, supporting student leaders, and faith-based student groups, connecting with community-based faith organizations, offering pastoral care, facilitating small group conversations, and providing ritual functions. A labyrinth is located on the gravel courtyard between the Chapel and the Littlefield Concert Hall and is available for walking as a way to quiet the mind, find balance and healing, and encourage prayer, meditation, insight, community, and celebration.

Find out more about SRL activities and upcoming events on our Facebook page.

Multi-Religious and Interfaith Calendar

The Office of Religious and Spiritual Life and the Office of the Provost have produced this calendar Multi-Religious Calendar 2020-2021 to support multi-religious and cultural literacy on campus and in order to help ensure the scheduling of activities to be sensitive to the religious needs of students, alumnae, faculty members and administrators.

Please note: many dates on this calendar include sacred times and holy days during which there are special work, food restrictions and/or worship and family obligations that may affect the ability of members of the community to participate in college events.

Not all of these religious and spiritual days involve work and food restrictions. However, these days may be an important part of the lives of observant members of the Mills College community. Please know that sacred times which follow the lunar calendar may vary.

Should you have questions or comments regarding this calendar, please contact Spiritual and Religious Life, chaplain@mills.edu or the Office of the Provost, provost@mills.edu.

2020

HOLIDAY DATE RELIGION DESCRIPTION ACCOMMODATIONS & OBSERVANCES 
Lughnasadh (Lammas) Sundown Friday, July 31 - Sundown Saturday, August 1, 2020 Wiccan/Pagan Celebration of the early harvest. Community gatherings and festive meals.
Waqf al Arafa/Hajj Day/Eid al-Adha* Sundown Thursday, July 30 – Sundown Monday, August 3, 2020  Islam This is a time of Hajj, the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, when pilgrims pray for forgiveness and mercy. 
Known as the Festival of Sacrifice, this is a four day holy festival marking the sacrifice of Abraham. Practices include prayers held at mosque followed by an evening feast. Eid al-Adha is a major holiday for those observing.
Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines on these days. Vacations may occur for people observing. If planning an evening event, provide food accommodations if requested (Islamic dietary restrictions apply).
Krishna Janmashtami* Tuesday, August 11 - Wednesday, August 12, 2020 Hindu Krishna Janmashtami, also known as Janmashtami or Gokulashtami, is an annual Hindu festival that celebrates the birth of Krishna, the eighth avatar of Vishnu.  Avoid scheduling major academic deadlines on this day. Hindu communities may be operating on little sleep due to holiday observances.
Paryushan-Parva* Saturday, August 15 - Saturday, August 22, 2o20 Jain Major eight day festival signifying human emergence into a new world of spiritual and moral refinement, and a celebration of the natural qualities of the soul. A time of forgiveness and spiritual practice. Jain students and employees may be fasting.
Muharram (Al-Hijra)* Sundown, Thursday, August 20 - Sundown, Friday, August 21, 2020 Islam Al-Hijra, the Islamic New Year, is the first day of the month of Muharram. It marks the Hijra (or Hegira) in 622 CE when the Prophet Muhammad moved from Mecca to Medina.
Ecclesiastical New Year Tuesday, September 1, 2020 Orthodox Christian Start of the religious calendar year
Ganesha Chaturthi Saturday, August 22, 2020 Hindu 10 day festival honoring the birth of Ganesha.
Ashura* Sundown Friday, August 28 - Sundown, Saturday, August 29 2020 Islam One-day fast marking the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali (Shi’a Islam) and marking the day Moses fasted in gratitude for liberation of the Israelites (Sunni Islam). Avoid scheduling major academic deadlines on this day. Students and employees may be fasting.
Pitru Paksha Tuesday, September 1-Thursday, September 17, 2020 Hindu 16-day period in Hindu calendar to pay homage to ancestors (Pitrs), especially through food offerings.  Food accommodations should be made for events; practitioners may abstain from eating meat and meat products (including eggs).
Mabon (Autumn Equinox) Sundown, Monday, September 21 - Sundown, Tuesday, September 29, 2020 Wiccan/Pagan Autumn Equinox. The celebration of when the day and night are of equal duration.
Erev Rosh Hashanah / Rosh Hashanah Sundown, Thursday, September 17-Sundown, Sunday, September 20, 2020 Jewish Rosh Hashanah marks the beginning of the Ten Days of Awe, which ends with Yom Kippur. Rosh Hashanah is known as the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are also known as Jewish High Holidays. Erev Rosh Hashanah is the evening before Rosh Hashanah begins and is also observed in the holiday cycle. Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities. Food accommodations should be made for events (kosher restrictions apply). Students and employees may need to suspend work, or request time away for travel and observance.
Feast of Saint Francis of Assisi Sunday, October 4, 2020 Catholic  Commemorates the death of venerated St. Assisi. Blessing of animals.
Navaratri (inc. Dussehra) Saturday, October 17 - Sunday, October 25, 2020 Hindu Festival of nine nights (and ten days), celebrated every year in autumn. Family gatherings, recitation of Hindu scriptures, and major cultural events occur.  Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance.
Yom Kippur Sundown Sunday, September 27 - Sundown, Monday, September 28, 2020 Jewish Part of the Jewish High Holidays, Yom Kippur is a Day of Atonement.  Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines. Students and employees may be fasting, need to suspend work, and request time away for travel and observance.
Sukkot Sundown, Friday, October 2 - Sundown, Friday, October 9, 2020 Jewish Sukkot is a harvest festival, part of the Jewish holiday cycle. Specially constructed tents or "sukkahs" are created for meals and community gatherings. Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities especially on the first 2 days of Sukkot. Evening and the first day may be non-working days for Reform observers, the evening before, as well as first and second days may be non-working for Orthodox observers. 
Shemini Atzeret & Simchat Torah Sundown Friday, October 9 - Sundown Sunday, October 11, 2020 Jewish Completion and renewal of the annual cycle of the reading of the Torah, a joyful period of study and reflection. Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events, or activities on these dates, students and employees may request time away for travel and observance.
Diwali (Deepavali) Saturday, November 14th. 2020 Diwali is a five day holiday, this date marks the climax of the festival Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Buddhist Sanskrit word meaning “rows of lighted lamps,” is a major 5-day, Hindu-originated festival celebrated in India and by the Indian diaspora. Avoid scheduling major academic deadlines on this day. Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance.
Birth of the Bab & Birth of Baha'u'llah (Twin Holy Birthdays) Monday, October 19- Tuesday, October 20, 2020 Bahá'í The Birth of the Báb (October 20, 1819) and the Birth of Bahá’u’lláh (November 12, 1817) occurred on consecutive days according to the Islamic lunar calendar (1 and 2 Muharram, respectively). These two central figures in the Bahá'í faith are celebrated on the first and second days of the eighth lunar month after Naw-Rúz.  Avoid scheduling major academic deadlines on this day. Students and employees may need to suspend work on these days and require time away from campus for travel and observance.
Jain New Year & Vikram Samvat New Year  Monday, November 16, 2020 Jain & Hindu
All Hallows Eve, All Saints Day, All Souls Day (Allhallowtide) Saturday, October 31 - Monday, November 2, 2020 Catholic & Multi-denominational Christian Three days of observance, beginning with the eve before All Saints Day, when all saints are remembered, and All Souls, when all Christian departed are remembered. This period includes church services and times of visiting graves with candles and flowers. Students and employees may require time away from campus for travel and observance.
Samhain Sundown, Saturday, October 31, - Sundown, Sunday, November 1, 2020 Pagan/Wiccan Samhain (pronounced “sow-win”), a major Pagan/Wiccan holiday, welcomes in the harvest and ushers in “the dark half of the year.” It is a time of remembrance for those who have passed.  Students may require time away from campus for travel and observance.
Dia de los Muertos Saturday, October 31 -
Monday, November 2, 2020
Latinx Observed by global Latinx communities, a time of remembering and honoring those who have passed. Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance.
Mawlid al-Nabi Sundown, Wednesday, October 28 - Sundown, Thursday, October 29, 2020 Islam Observance of the prophet Muhammad. Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance.
Nativity Fast Thursday, November 28, 2019 - Monday, January 6, 2020 Christian/ Catholic/Christian Orthodox 40-day period of Advent begins. Students and employees may be observing dietary restrictions and fasting during this period.
Guru Nanak Dev Sahib’s birthday Monday, November 30th, 2020 Sikh  Honors the birth of founder of Sikhism. Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance.
Bodhi Day  Sunday, December 8, 2019 (see also Thursday, January 2, 2020) Buddhist Celebration of the Enlightenment of Buddha Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance.
Our Lady Guadalupe (Feast Day) Saturday, December 12, 2020 Christian The Day of the Virgin of Guadalupe (Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe) honors this central saint. Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance.
Las Posadas Wednesday, December 16 - Thursday, December 24, 2020 Christian 9-days of remembering the journey of the holy family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance.
Hanukkah Sundown, Thursday, December 10 - Sundown, Friday, December 18, 2020 Jewish Hanukkah (meaning "to dedicate") is an 8-day festival, also known as the Jewish "Festival of Lights"; commemorating resilience and re-dedication of the 2nd temple in Jerusalem in the second century B.C.  Academics and work is permitted.
Yule (Winter Solstice) Monday, December 21, 2020- Friday, January 1, 2021 Pagan/Wiccan Celebrates the "longest night" of winter and anticipates the return of sunlight.
Christmas Day Friday, December 25, 2020 Christian Celebrates the birth of the baby Jesus, central figure in Christianity. Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on this date. Students and employees will likely request to have this day off.
Kwanzaa  Saturday, December 26, 2020 - Friday, January 1, 2021 African American/Pan-African/African diaspora Week-long celebration of African and African-American heritage. Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on this date. Students and employees may request time away during this period for observances.
2021

HOLIDAY DATE RELIGION DESCRIPTION ACCOMMODATIONS & OBSERVANCES 
Gantan-sai  Friday, January 1 - Sunday, January 8, 2021 Shinto New Year Celebration; festival lasts for a week, includes visits to friends and family, offering gifts of good wishes for the coming year.  Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance. This may be a work-restricted holiday.
Bodhi Day Wednesday, January 20, 2021 Buddhism Celebration of the Enlightenment of Buddha  Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance.
Feast of the Nativity Thursday, January 7, 2021 Orthodox Christian Christian feast day celebrating the birth of Virgin Mary. Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance.
Lunar New Year Friday, February 12, 2021 Confucian, Daoist, Buddhist New Year Celebration (known also as Chinese New Year) Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities. Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance.
Imbolc Sundown, Monday, February 1 - Sundown, Tuesday, February 2, 2021 Pagan/Wiccan (Saint) Brigid's Day is a Gaelic traditional festival marking the beginning of spring. 
Magha Puja Day Friday, February 27 (see also March 28) 2021 Buddhism Celebrates a gathering that was held between the Buddha and his first disciples. 
Tu B'Shevat Sundown Wednesday, January 27 - Sundown, Thursday, January 28 2021 Jewish Also known as "New Year of the Trees", practices include the planting of trees.
Maha Shivaratri Thursday, March 11, 2021 Hindu Major festival of forgiveness, fasting and spiritual practice. Students and employees may be fasting and/or request time away for travel and observance.
Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras Tuesday, February 16, 2021 Christian May be observed as a "carnival day" before the period of abstaining from certain foods for Lent in the Christian liturgical calendar.
Ash Wednesday / Lent begins Wednesday, February 17, 2021 Christian Ash Wednesday is a time of prayer and reflection, beginning the Christian season of Lent. Lent is the period during the 46 days before Easter in Christian liturgical cycles. Students and employees may be fasting and/or not eating meat. It is recommended to provide food accommodation as requested.
Lent Wednesday, February 16 - Monday, March 29, 2021 Christian (see also above) Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and is the annual period of Christian observance that precedes Easter. The 40 dates of Lent is a time for spiritual introspection and may include the intentional cessation of certain "indulgences" (activities and foods) as a spiritual practice. Students and employees may be fasting and/or not eating meat. It is recommended to provide food accommodation as requested.
Alá’ (Loftiness) Tuesday, March 2, 2021 Bahai Nineteen-Day Fast during which members of the Bahá'í Faith adhere to a sunrise-to-sunset fast; a time of spiritual practice and reflection. Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on these dates. Students and employees may be fasting.
Purim Sundown Tuesday, February 25 - Friday, February 26, 2021 Jewish Playful and joyful holiday recounting tales and teachings of Queen Esther. Students and employees may request travel or time away for observances.
Holi Sundown, Sunday, March 28 - Monday, March 29, 2021 Hindu Also known as the "Festival of Colors"; celebrated over 2 days, a time of honoring the spring. Practices include the throwing colorful powder and water. 
Eostre / Ostara (Spring Equinox) Sundown Friday, March 19 - Sundown, Sunday March 20, 2021 Pagan/Wiccan Celebration of spring and fertility.
Rama Navami Wednesday, April 21, 2021 Hindu Celebrates the birth of the Lord Rama. Individuals may require time away from campus for travel and observance.
Palm Sunday Sunday, March 28, 2021 Christian The Sunday before Easter in Christian liturgical cycles.
Passover Sundown Saturday March 27 - Sundown, Saturday April 3, 2021 Jewish Also known as "Festival of Freedom", remembers the liberation of Israelites from bondage in Egypt. Ritual meals called "seders" are held with family and friends.  Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events or activities. Food accommodations should be made for events. Besides Kosher restrictions, the use of leavening is prohibited; matzah is eaten in place of bread. Students and employees may request time away for travel and observance.
Maundy Thursday Thursday, April 1, 2021 Christian Remembers the last day Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples. Recalls Jesus washing the feet of his disciples as a practice of humility. Maundy Thursday practices include the ritual washing of each other's feet.
Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter Friday, April 2 - Sunday, April 4, 2021 Christian Good Friday recalls the Crucification of Jesus, Holy Saturday remembers the body of Jesus in his tomb, Resurrection Sunday or Easter Sunday, is a festival and holiday commemorating the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Individuals may be fasting and/or abstaining from meat (fish is permitted) during Good Friday and Holy Saturday. Easter may be a feast day, and is one of the major Christian holidays for which students and employees may request time away from campus for travel and observance.
Yom Hashoah / Holocaust Remembrance Day Sundown Thursday, April 8 - Sundown Friday, April 9, 2021 Jewish Day of memorial and commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who died in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, and for the Jewish resistance in that period.
Ridván (1st day) of Most Great Festival Tuesday, April 20, 2021 Bahá’í Riḍván is a twelve-day festival in the Bahá'í Faith, commemorating important messages of Bahá'u'lláh.  Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities on the 1st day, 9th day, and 12th day of Ridván, these are work-restricted holidays.
Ramadan & Eid al-Fitr Sundown, Monday April 12 - Sundown, Tuesday May 11, 2021 Islam One of the 5 pillars of Islam, a 3-day holy period of prayer, reflection and community. Eid al-Fitr is at the end of Ramadan, marking the conclusion of the month-long period of fasting and is also known as the Feast of Fast-Breaking. Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities, if possible, on the first day of Ramadan. Students and employees will be fasting during the day for 30 days.
Beltane Saturday, May 1, 2021 Pagan/Wiccan Beltane (Beltain, or also known as the Gaelic May Day festival) is halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice and marks the beginning of summer.
Vesak Thursday, April 8, 2021 Buddhism Vesak Day commemorates key events in the life of the Buddha: including the birth, enlightenment, and passing of Gautama Buddha.
Declaration of the Báb Sundown, Saturday, May 22 - Sundown, Sunday, May 23, 2021 Bahá’í Recalls important declaration of the Bab, central figure in Bahá’í faith.  Recommended Accommodations: Avoid scheduling important academic deadlines, events and activities. This may be a work-restricted holiday.

* Dates may vary based upon lunar calendar