To the UConn Community:
The Office for Diversity and Inclusion and the Provost’s Office would like to take this opportunity to remind you of several celebrations, commemorations, and moments of raising awareness for members of our community during the month of August:
International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples (August 9th): The United Nations sets aside every August 9th to commemorate the world’s Indigenous Peoples and to raise awareness about the need to recognize their identities, ways of life, territories, and natural resources, all of which have been violated throughout history. This year’s celebration inaugurates the “International Decade of Indigenous Languages,” to raise awareness and mobilize support for preserving Native and Indigenous languages. According to the UN, most of the world’s languages in danger of disappearing belong to Native and Indigenous peoples. The disappearance of these languages puts at risk the knowledge systems and cultures they belong to while further isolating Indigenous peoples politically and socially.
In an effort to support local Indigenous languages, UConn’s Native American Cultural Programs (NACP), Dodd Impact, the Literatures, Cultures, and Languages department, and local language leaders have partnered on the Minoritized Languages Project to run several events highlighting the effects of colonization on language. The team hopes that these events will serve to educate UConn’s community further on Connecticut’s Indigenous peoples, cultures, and language revitalization efforts.
Muharram (July 29th – August 28th): Muharram is the first month of the Islamic calendar, second only to Ramadan in importance and holiness. Many Muslims celebrate the first day of Muharram as the Islamic New Year (July 29th) marking the start of the lunar year. Muslims celebrate the new year by visiting the mosque, praying for well-being, and spending time with loved ones. They also traditionally cook something sweet to share when breaking their fast. Muharram also includes Ashura (August 7th – 8th), which mourns the martyrdom of Ḥusayn ibn Ali, the grandson of Muhammad for Shia Muslims while commemorating for Sunni Muslims the day Moses fasted to show gratitude for the freedom of the Israelites. Traditions and celebrations vary across locations and between Shia and Sunni peoples; Sunnis consider this a day of respect but do not take part in mourning traditions.
National Senior Citizens Day (August 21st): Created by Presidential Proclamation in 1988, National Senior Citizens Day honors and shows appreciation to the elders in our communities. It also raises awareness of the need to continue supporting our elders as they face new struggles from aging; senior citizens often face increased health issues and may be economically vulnerable. The best ways to celebrate this day are to visit the elders in your family and community or to volunteer at senior care centers, meal delivery services, and other senior-based programs. The University of Connecticut supports senior citizens through free educational initiatives, including Senior Citizen Audits for learners over 62, UConn Extension’s Center for Learning in Retirement (CLIR) for retirees and other adults from all walks of life, and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLII) where learners over 50 can expand their minds and connect with other learners.
Purple Heart Day (August 7th): This day honors American soldiers who were wounded or killed while serving their country on or after April 5, 1917. The veteran community is important to UConn. The Office of Veterans Affairs and Military Programs (VAMP) provides student support services specifically for veterans, active service members, and their families attending UConn. Their services include certifying VA educational benefits, assisting students in their transition to life at UConn, and providing supplemental programs and activities to student veterans. VAMP works closely with the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD), which has a wealth of resources for veterans regardless of ability status. VAMP also works closely with state-based Veterans Centers that provide fully confidential mental and behavioral health assistance.
Women’s Equality Day (August 26th): Women’s Equality Day commemorates the certification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920, guaranteeing that every American is able to vote, regardless of gender. Made into a national holiday in 1971, this day celebrates activists’ achievements in promoting equity and equality for women. It also serves as a reminder of the need to continually advocate for gender-based equity and equality, as well as the need to dedicate resources to promoting and empowering women, including by combatting sexual- and gender-based violence. At UConn, these imperatives are carried out by the Women’s Center, the Rainbow Center, the Title IX office, the UConn Foundation, the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, the Center for Career Development, and the UConn Health Women’s Center resources for expecting, pregnant, and parenting students, among other unit- and department-level resources.
Religious Holidays: August 2022 is also a significant month for many religious members of our community (listed chronologically):
Tisha B’Av (August 6th – August 7th): This annual fast day mourns the destruction of the First Temple and Second Temple in Jerusalem on the same calendar day 655 years apart. Tish B’av is remembered by Jews all over the world to recall the sufferings of the Jewish people. This day of mourning is typically held on the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av – unless, as with this year, the ninth falls on Shabbat, in which case Tish B’av is celebrated on the tenth day of Av.
Ashura (August 7th – August 8th): This holy day for Muslims is celebrated on the tenth day of Muharram; this year, that falls on August 7th. Traditions and celebrations vary across locations and between Shia and Sunni peoples. Shia Muslims typically see it as the most important day of Muharram, which mourns the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. For Sunni Muslims, Ashura commemorates the day Moses and his followers were saved from Pharaoh by God by creating a path in the Red Sea.
Feast of the Assumption / Dormition of the Mother of God (August 15th): August 15th is widely celebrated among Roman Catholics, Eastern Catholics, and Eastern Orthodox Christians as the day Jesus’s mother, Mary, ascended to heaven in both body and soul. This is a holy day of obligation for Catholics. Celebrations might include festivals, processions, and planting a Mary Garden.
Krishna Janmashtami (August 18th – August 19th): Also known as Gokulashtami, this two-day festival marks the birth of Krishna, one of the most popular Hindu deities. Hindus celebrate Janmashtami by fasting, singing devotional songs, praying together, preparing special foods, holding night vigils, and visiting temples. Major Krishna temples organize a recitation of “Bhagavata Purana” and “Bhagavad Gita” or drama events “Rasa Lila” and “Krishna Lila.”
We welcome the celebration of each of these holidays on our campuses and encourage support for those requiring accommodations. You can find information about guidance on academic accommodations for religious observations on a Provost Office’s Religious Observation Calendar.
To see more information about resources and events happening this month and throughout the remainder of the semester, please visit our events page at www.diversity.uconn.edu/events.
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs
Jeffrey F. Hines, MD
Associate Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, UConn Health
This post has been edited for clarity.