Religious observances which may impact on university activities in 2022
2022 Religious Festivals: The Inter Faith Network list of major holy days and festival dates
This is to advise of the dates of various key religious festivals which are likely to be observed by both staff and students in the course of this calendar year. As always, this is not meant to be an exhaustive or complete list of all religious activities, but it concentrates on those where religious obligations may have an impact on aspects of our life and activities together.
The agreed policy is that any requests from students to be absent during term-time for necessary religious observance should be considered by Departments/Faculties as they arise, although the position is that the university is happy to consider such requests for absence for religious reasons as long as they are made sufficiently in advance, and appropriate alternative arrangements should be made to ensure that students are not disadvantaged by their religious observance (see the Timetable Policy at https://www.kcl.ac.uk/governancezone/Assets/Teaching/Timetable-Policy.pdf). Staff members are advised to inform their line managers as soon as possible in advance if they are likely to need leave for religious reasons at any point in the year.
The Jewish festival of Purim begins at sunset on Wednesday 16 March and ends at nightfall on Thursday 17 March. Work and travel should be avoided during this time, so Jewish staff and students may need to leave work/classes early on the Wednesday, and may request the Thursday as leave (staff) or not be able to join classes that day (students).
April / May
The Muslim holy month of Ramadan will begin on or around Saturday 2 April and will last until around Sunday 1 May when the feast of Eid al-Fitr is marked (both dates are dependent on the sighting of the moon, hence the slight uncertainty). Most of this festival occurs within the vacation, although the last week coincides with the first week of the summer term, when there will be some teaching and revision taking place. Ramadan will have ended by the time Exam Period II starts, though, so it is not likely that students will be affected during exams as a result of fasting during hours of daylight (which is required as part of the observance of Ramadan). However, staff are encouraged to be aware of students who could still be affected, especially in revision classes. Those students who are on clinical placements may also need specific support to ensure that they can meet their clinical learning and assessment requirements whilst maintaining their religious observances.
Information and advice regarding students fasting while on placement during Ramadan, and other information and advice regarding Ramadan generally, will be added here in due course:
The Jewish festival of Passover begins at sunset on Friday 15 April and ends at nightfall on Saturday 23 April. Although this festival lasts for just over a week, the first two days and the last two days are the most important, when work and travel must be avoided – since Passover falls in the vacation this year, teaching is less likely to be affected and staff may ask for the relevant time off as annual leave anyway.
It is worth noting that Orthodox Christians will celebrate Easter a week later than other Christians this year, on Sunday 24 April, so some people may wish to take leave on Friday 22 April (Orthodox Good Friday).
The holiest day in the Buddhist calendar, the Day of Vesak, occurs on Monday 16 May, but Buddhist staff and students are unlikely to need time off to celebrate.
The Jewish festival of Shavuot begins at sunset on Saturday 4 June and ends at nightfall on Monday 6 June. Once again, work and travel must be avoided, so people may request leave for the Monday (which follows a four-day weekend anyway, with the two Platinum Jubilee Bank Holidays on Thursday 2 and Friday 3 June). Exam Period II should have finished by then, so students are unlikely to find that there is a clash between a scheduled exam and their religious observance, but if there are any timetabling issues, for instance with teaching which may still be happening (for instance in the Medical or Dental Faculties), such clashes should be advised to Faculties/Departments and the Examinations Office as soon as possible, and advice sought from the Dean’s Office (Rabbi Dr Harrie Cedar, as Jewish Chaplain, is a part-time member of the Chaplaincy team, and we also work closely with the Rabbi to the London Universities).
July / August
The Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha falls between Saturday 9 and Wednesday 13 July; since this is during the summer vacation, those people who are likely to be observing this may already be on annual leave at the time. The festival of Ashura, which is celebrated by Shia Muslims, then takes place on Sunday 7 and Monday 8 August. This involves the avoidance of work as far as possible, so again staff may have already factored this into their annual leave requests; however, this also coincides with the start of Exam Period III, so some students may find that they need to ask for alternative provision at this time.
September / October
The next few festivals occur during the first few weeks of the new academic year, when it will be difficult for new students to make requests in advance if the need for absence is in their first few weeks at King’s, so some flexibility and understanding will be required.
The Jewish New Year festival (Rosh Hashanah) begins at sunset on Sunday 25 September and ends at nightfall on Tuesday 27 September. As before, work and travel must be avoided, so again people may ask for annual leave on Monday and Tuesday – since this will be in the first week of the new academic year, advance notice may not be as possible as would be helpful.
The holiest festival of the Jewish year, Yom Kippur, then runs from sunset on Tuesday 4 October until nightfall the following day, meaning that Wednesday 5 October will be the day when leave is requested. This is followed by the linked festivals of Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, and Simchat Torah, which begin at sunset on Sunday 9 October and end at nightfall on Tuesday 18 October (as with Passover earlier in the year, the first two days and the last two days are the most important). People may therefore ask for time off particularly on Monday 10, Tuesday 11, Monday 17 and Tuesday 18 October, as well as possibly also the days in between.
The Shia Muslim festival of Arbaeen, which is related to Ashura (in August), takes place on Friday 16 and Saturday 17 September. Again, ideally work should be avoided so time off may be requested, and with regard to students, this may affect their involvement in Welcome Week activities.
When the new academic year starts in September, it will be helpful to remember that new students may not, at the very start of term, have found the Muslim Prayer Rooms on the different College campuses (this is presuming that teaching and other activities have returned to campus by then). As a reminder, these are Strand Building room S-1.03, on the first floor of the Franklin Wilkins Building at Waterloo, in the first basement of the Hodgkin Building at Guy’s, and room W1.07 in the Main Building of the IoPPN at Denmark Hill. Prayer times are spread throughout the day, with the most important prayer time being Friday lunchtime; it is always appreciated if Muslim staff and students can be permitted to go to pray when required, although it is good practice to make it clear to students that it is expected that they should request permission for this first, rather than just getting up and walking out at the relevant time.
The Hindu and Jain festival of Diwali, the Festival of Lights, falls on Monday 24 October, but should not require time off for observance.
More widely, staff and students are – as always – very welcome to the Opening of Year Services in the College’s two Chapels. All being well, the service at the Strand will be on Wednesday 28 September at 1.10pm, and that at Guy’s will be on Thursday 29 September at 5.30pm.
One of the most significant festivals of the Sikh community, the Birthday of Guru Nanak occurs on Tuesday 8 November, although celebrations usually start two days beforehand but should not require time off.
The Jewish feast of Hanukkah will again fall after the end of term this year, beginning at sunset on Sunday 18 December and ending at nightfall on Monday 26 December. Work does not need to be avoided, although given that this is so close to the time when the College closes for the break, people may wish to start their time of annual leave from Monday 19 December.
If there are any queries or problems related to this subject, please contact either the Dean’s Office or one of the Chaplains, and we will do our best to help. As mentioned, this is not a comprehensive list (there are, of course, many other festivals of different faiths across the year), but also as mentioned it tries to focus on those festivals where religious obligations may particularly impact upon exams at the end of one academic year, and attendance for registration and the start of teaching at the start of the next.