Shabbat (Hebrew: שַׁבָּת, šabbāt) means "the [day of] rest" in Hebrew tradition. According to Old Testament, the God created the world out of chaotic darkness in six days and took rest on Saturday. To celebrate the creation and this cessation, the Jewish tradition marks this day as a rest day and Sabbath begins at nightfall on Friday and lasts until nightfall on Saturday. But the same is not true with Christian and Islamic faith systems.
Christian reserves Sunday as their day of religious observance. According to the Christian history, Sunday was chosen in order to assimilate with the local Roman religion and Mitharism culture and at the same time differentiate with Judaism in Early Roman Era( 321 CE) when pagan sun-worshiper Emperor Constantine formally embraced Christianity as religion. But both of these traditions, i.e. Jew and Christianity, observe Sabbath as a rest day to mark the creation. This is not the same with Islam.
Islam considers Friday as the auspicious day for religious involvement According to Islamic faith system, God is not like human beings who need rest; rather the creation of the God can be observed on Friday as Jumu’ah by congregating at a Mosque after which Muslims are free to go back to work. Similarly Buddhism practices a tradition like Sabbath, known as Uposatha (fasting) on which day monk and nuns involve in the cleansing of the defiled mind through study, meditation, generosity and hospitality. Generally the days of Uposatha are based on lunar calendar, mostly on full moon day, new moon day and so, but regionally it varies according to the prevailing tradition. But Hindu has something different to say.
For Hindus, there is neither beginning nor the end of this existence, therefore there is no any particular day to mark event as such. Therefore Hinduism denies the concept of Sabbath, or “rest”, and for a Hindu, each day is equally important. But again, there is a tradition in my country Nepal, where Hindu devotees go to temple, perform the rituals of Puja( worship) to the image of the God on Saturday--the national holiday.
Similar rituals and customs can also be seen in other faith systems and we can see some sort of similarities in them and some sort of differences. Now the question arises: What to celebrate—the similarities or the difference?
Recent social acknowledgement of cultural diversities and differences has attracted the attention of the peacebuilders from different communities. There is some hope to answer the questions like: How conflict emergence and evolve in a variety of settings? How the cause of conflict could be addressed in a broader peace paradigm? How the cultural diversities can be used as a force for peace, and differences as a reason to be “special”? But my reflection suggests something different.
Most of the religious communities of our contemporary world tend to address this issue of difference and diversity from the old paradigm. The public performance of the identities and social constructions, to a great extent, sustain the meanings and conceptions derived from the earlier paradigm attributable to the making of the conflict in the community. As for example, people from different backgrounds and identities commute to these interfaith events, but they cannot leave their identity and conception behind the door, rather they participate such ceremonies with their full individuality, sometimes easily visible and sometimes not, but invisibility of their individuality is not that does not exist. Therefore people participate such events with their differences.
What we really do in such events is most important factor that makes the difference. As I have witnessed, most of the activities of these events in some way confirm or reconfirm the differences inherent in individuals, and the participants tend to perform their differences within the metastructure upon which the ceremony itself stands. In this situation it is hard to find a common solvent to dissolve the differences, therefore the visitor may return home with consolidated difference.
Diversity is a natural phenomenon whereas difference is human construction. In many seminaries and social gatherings, I witnessed that people from different faith systems are prone to perform their differences than the diversities in order to facilitate inter-faith dialogues and inter-religious understanding. This is one of the issues that should be sufficiently studied, analyzed and harmonized in a completely different paradigm if humanity has to learn to live together peacefully in this planet.