Every year on August 15th many of the Hispanics in Los Angeles commute to the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels. There they honor the Assumption of Mary by attending mass, an obligaton required of practicing American Catholics on this holy day. After the mass, some say the rosary in one of the small alcoves adjacent to the Cathedral's huge chapel.
Because this Cathedral in Los Angeles has these small alcoves, it provides the City's immigrants many ways to "personalize" a holy day observance. Those who come to the Cathedral can create in the small alcoves a short replay of a fondly-remembered holy day rite. On August 15th each alcove provides a glimpse of how at least one immigrant family celebrated the Assumption of Mary.
Suppose for example that a Mexican farmer had always brought corn to place on the altar during the Assumption of Mary. If his son or daughter has moved to Los Angeles, then they too could use the Assumption of Mary as a time for placing corn on an altar. They could leave corn on the small altar in one of the Cathedral's tiny alcoves.
The Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary commemorates an event said to have taken place more than 2,000 years ago. The Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary celebrates Mary's passage into heaven.
In the more than 2,000 years of the Christian church, there have existed a number of Feasts that honored events in the life of the Virgin Mary. One of those events honored the Assumption of Mary; another celebrated the Purification of Mary. The Purification was celebrated on February 2nd.
During the Middle Ages the Feast of Purification came to be called Candlemas. The Feast honoring the Assumption of Mary never received any type of alternate name. The Feast associated with the Assumption also escaped transformation into any sort of secular special occasion. Today most people identify February 2nd with Ground Hog Day. Of course now in 2006 things have changed greatly, and the citizens of today's world celebrate many different religions. Consequently the Assumption of Mary is often as peculiar a holy day as the Baha'i Festival of Ridvan.
Outside of the Catholic Church few Christians know much about the Virgin Mary. Few know that Mary was a cousin of Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. Many Christians struggle with defining the meaning of the Virgin birth of Jesus to Mary. Some help with the interpreting of that meaning can be found in the book Some Answered Questions, a book available in all Baha'i bookstores.
Baha'i books help to supply material for many religious holidays. They hold several pages of quotes that add to the international flavor of an event held on World Religion Day, the third Sunday in January. They focus on certain issues that might serve as the basis for a spirited religious discussion. Readers often find such books easily able to shed light on a complex religious question.
While there is no Baha'i book that presents material about the Assumption of Mary, there are Baha'i books that offer a unique perspective on the meaning of the Virgin birth. The knowledge obtained from such books can also guide a dialogue about the veracity of various claims surrounding the Assumption of Mary.