Welcome to the September issue of The Monthly View.

If you would like to share news on upcoming religious/cultural celebrations or health campaigns with us, please get in touch with Amy Soutter at amy.soutter@newham.gov.uk or 020 3373 8771. We also welcome any feedback on this newsletter.
1-28 September: Al Hijra/Muharram 
Islamic New Year, or Al Hijra as it is called in Arabic, begins this year on 30th/31st August and continues for 29 days throughout September, ending on 28th. The first month of the Islamic New Year is known as Muharram.

Muharram is one of the four sacred months of the Muslim calendar, during which war was traditionally forbidden. Shia Muslims hold a period of mourning for the first ten days of Muharram, honouring the memory of Husayn ibn Ali, the Prophet’s grandson. The tenth of these days, called the Day of Ashura, is the peak of the remembrance, because it is said that Husayn and 72 of his followers were killed on that day.
 
Al Hijra – Arabic for ‘flight’ or ‘emigration’ - has been celebrated since 622 AD when the Prophet Mohammed fled from Mecca to Yathrib (now called Medina) to escape religious persecution and establish the religion in peace. This marked the beginning of Islam as a community. 

Festivities are more subdued than for either of the Eids, but Muslims traditionally use this time for self-reflection and prayer, some making new year’s resolutions. Shia Muslim sects practise chest beating, known as the Latyma, and sometimes self-flagellation and the cutting of their foreheads.
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10 September – 11 November: Drink Free Days
In the UK, one in five adults drinks more than the amount recommended by the Chief Medical Officer. More than two thirds of these adults also said that they would find cutting down on alcohol harder than making other lifestyle changes, such as stopping smoking or taking up exercise.

Behavioural science research suggests that taking regular days without alcohol is easier for many drinkers than cutting down on units. 

In response to all these findings, Public Health England and charity Drinkaware have launched the Drink Free Days campaign, which will run throughout September, October and early November. The campaign targets middle-aged and older drinkers, highlighting the impact of alcohol on health, which includes increased risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and obesity. 

It also aims to highlight the negative effects of even moderate drinking on our health. To help with this, Drink Aware has a range of tools on its site to help people track and understand their drinking. Find out more here.
 
The campaign has also launched an app, One You Drink Free Days, which tracks drinking and drink free days, offers advice and support and has already shown promising results in helping people to change their behaviour around drinking. 
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Rare language fact file: Nanai (aka Hezhen, Gold, Goldi)
In the UN Year of Indigenous Languages, we continue our look at the minority languages that are threatened by an increasingly globalised world and the growth of ‘super’ languages such as English and Spanish. 

The third rare language profile in our series looks at Nanai. 



Native to: Heilongjiang, China and Siberia, Russia

Number of native speakers: approximately 180

Spoken by: the Nanai people

Learn some Nanai: if you hear ‘ume antaharara’, it is a Nanai person welcoming you and inviting to you make yourself at home

Interesting facts: 

•    The Nanai language has no alphabet of its own but uses Cyrillic script or Chinese characters; it was an oral language until those trying to preserve it started to transcribe its words. It is better preserved in Russia, where the community has ethnic autonomous status and has produced many books in the language. In China, the Nanai people (also called Hezhe) also produced a textbook in 2002. 

•    The Nanai are traditionally shamanistic and believe that the spirits of animals can inhabit certain people (shamans) to give guidance and instruction. In many rituals, Nanai use something called ‘word-tunes’; phrases that have little semantic meaning but that sound melodic and act as chants. Nanai believe that spirits are not drawn to meaning, but rhythm and cadence. 
 
•    In 1975, renowned Japanese film director, Akira Kurosawa, made an Academy Award-winning film about a friendship between a Nanai hunter and a Russian soldier, Dersu Uzala. The hunter travels to civilisation with his friend, only to find that his skills are useless in the modern world. 
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19 September: Keiro No Hi (Respect for the Aged Day)
In Japan, respect for elders is an important part of the culture, as a pillar of Buddhist and Shinto belief, as well as Confucianism. In 1963, Japan introduced a day dedicated to older people, called Keiro no hi. 

Keiro no hi falls on the third Monday in September and is a national holiday. It was previously celebrated on 15 September, but the government moved it to a Monday as part of a strategy to give 9-5 workers in Japan more three-day weekends!

Across the country, over-65s are celebrated at special events and volunteers deliver free meals and give out hampers containing small gifts. Schools often put on special performances in old people’s homes. A particular emphasis is placed on being healthy in old age, so in big cities there are often fitness competitions and displays. 

Younger people are also encouraged to take their older relatives out for the day or for a meal or, if circumstances do not allow that, just to phone for a chat. 

Find out more about Keiro no hi here.
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29 September: Rosh Hashanah 
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish new year, literally ‘the head of the year’. It is celebrated over two days, beginning this year on 29 September. 

The celebration is also known as the ‘day of judgment’, because the Tolmud (Jewish holy book) states that on Rosh Hashanah, three books of names will be opened: the righteous, the wicked and those in-between. Those who are neither wicked nor righteous have a ten-day period (until the feast of Yom Kippur) to reflect and repent. The names of the righteous and those who have achieved righteousness over the ten day period are written by God into the Book of Life; they will go to heaven. The names of the wicked are forever banned from this book. 

Rosh Hashanah is celebrated with the blowing of a shofar or hollowed-out ram’s horn. Special services and readings are held in synagogues. People visit family and eat special Rosh Hashanah foods, typically apples dipped in honey to symbolise a sweet year ahead. Round challah bread is also served, representing the cyclical nature of the seasons. 

Learn more about Rosh Hashanah here
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This Month's dates at a glance