The spiritual leader of the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno is taking a five-month sabbatical.
Imam Seyed Ali Ghazvini gave the congregational prayer Aug. 8 at the center, then began his sabbatical. He is scheduled to return in January.
During his sabbatical, Ghazvini plans to conduct research and continue his education as well as speak at workshops and conferences.
Much of his time away, he will focus on charity work in Iraq, his home country. He is part of a charitable organization, Development and Relief Foundation, that serves women and children, refugees and victims of violence. The organization has built a hospital, an orphanage and four schools in Iraq.
Ghazvini has served at the Islamic Cultural Center of Fresno since May 2004. This is his first sabbatical as imam in Fresno.
In his absence, his nephew Seyed Hadi Qazwini will lead the Friday afternoon congregational prayers at the center, 2111 E. Nees Ave. Qazwini earned a master's in religious leadership in Muslim contexts with Bayan Claremont at Claremont Lincoln University.
Details: (559) 297-9535.
Church remembers long-serving priest
Parishioners of St. Paul Armenian Church in Fresno are remembering a long-serving parish priest, the Rev. Shahe A.K. Altounian. He died July 31 at age 92.
The Rev. Altounian served as parish priest of St. Paul from 1968 to 1991.
During his pastorate, the Rev. Altounian led efforts to build the church at its current site, 3767 N. First St. The church was consecrated on April 22, 1979.
Upon completion of the construction project, His Holiness Vazken I, Supreme Patriarch Catholicos of All Armenians, gave the Rev. Altounian the title of archpriest and permission to wear the pectoral cross.
The church sanctuary previously was on M Street across from Memorial Auditorium.
Program features spiritual tradition
A program featuring a sister/brother spiritual tradition observed in India for centuries will be offered at the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual Organization meeting at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 17, at 7319 N. Fourth St.
The tradition, called Raksha Bandhan, emphasizes the relationship of pure love between a sister and brother.
In Fresno, audience members will have an opportunity to practice the ceremony, also known as "The Link of Divine Love." The ceremony calls for the sister to tie a bracelet around the right wrist of her brother as a symbol of their unique relationship of love, support and protection.
The gathering also will offer guided meditation.
The event is free and open to everyone.
Details: email firstname.lastname@example.org or call, (559) 435-2212.
Dinner/dance to benefit St. John's
A 1920s-style gala dinner/dance fundraiser — supporting the restoration of the St. John's Cathedral social hall kitchen — will be presented Aug. 23 at Frank's Place, 1432 Fulton St.
The Biretta Ball begins with a social hour at 5:30 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. and a program at 8 p.m. Guests are encouraged to wear formal or 1920s-style attire.
Bud Elliott, who recently retired as a KSEE24 anchor, is the celebrity emcee.
During the event, four parishioners or families will be awarded 7-inch "Oscars" for their outstanding work.
The Joe Lenigan Big Band will provide music for dancing. There also will be a live auction, including two dinners-for-10, each prepared by a monsignor.
Cost is $100.
Details: (559) 650-1154 or 259-6001.
Hindu festival observes anniversary
A festival honoring the birth anniversary of important Hindu god Krishna is scheduled at 4 p.m. Aug. 23 at BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, 1425 W. Pine Ave.
The event, called Janmashtami, features a cultural program, including skits and dances that are performed by the children and youth at the temple. There also will be chanting and singing (kirtans) and spiritual talks.
Hinduism teaches that Krishna is the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu, one of the three major Hindu gods.
Details: (559) 264-1001.
Celebration will mark India's independence
A celebration observing India's 68th Independence Day will begin at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Fresno State Satellite Student Union.
Guests include Shri N. Parthasarathi, consul general of India in San Francisco, and Joseph Castro, president at Fresno State.
The Council of Indian Organizations of Central Valley is presenting the event.
Details: (559) 269-6974 or 305-6740.
Also, a dinner event celebrating India's independence is scheduled at 7 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Elephant Lounge, 80 W. Shaw Ave., Clovis.
The reservation deadline has passed.
Details: (559) 708-0465.