Tuesday, 31. October 2006
Samhain, Halloween, Diwali, Tihar and Day of the Dead
Halloween, or All Hallows Eve, is the time when we remember every saint who hasn’t been given their own day. Well, that is certainly how our Christian churches would want us to honour the last day of October. But for many, Halloween is all about guising, turnip lanterns and dooking for apples - which on the face of it doesn’t seem to have much to do with saints.
Samhain was not just about year's end and the coming of winter. It was also the feast of the dead, the season of the earth’s decay when evil was held to wander the planet. The shield of the female warrior Skathcach was lowered, and the barrier between the two worlds faded. The forces of chaos invaded our globe, and the world of the living joined with the world of the dead.
Halloween and the Celtic Samhain
|That's because long before Christianity reached our shores, Halloween was known by the older, darker and altogether more mystical name of Samhain.|
Samhain is the time when the sun is furthest south of the equator. Ancient Celts considered it to be the beginning of their new year and the death of the old. It was a time of celebration, to give thanks for the summer harvest and to ask a blessing for the coming months.
by The Scotsman
And also by The Scotsman: What happened on Halloween 1590 in North Berwick is up for debate. What is certain is that the fragments of evidence handed down through centuries is a witches' brew of intrigue.
North Berwick and the brew of tortured witches
Samhain (Scots Gaelic: Samhuinn) literally means “summer's end.” In Scotland and Ireland, Halloween is known as Oíche Shamhna, while in Wales it is Nos Calan Gaeaf, the eve of the winter's calend, or first. With the rise of Christianity, Samhain was changed to Hallowmas, or All Saints' Day, to commemorate the souls of the blessed dead who had been canonized that year, so the night before became popularly known as Halloween, All Hallows Eve, or Hollantide.
November 2nd became All Souls Day, when prayers were to be offered to the souls of all who the departed and those who were waiting in Purgatory for entry into Heaven. Throughout the centuries, pagan and Christian beliefs intertwine in a gallimaufry of celebrations from Oct 31st through November 5th, all of which appear both to challenge the ascendancy of the dark and to revel in its mystery.
by Mara Freeman
Witchvox has an excellent article on Samhain:
You Call It Hallowe'en... We Call It Samhain
| ... So as this Samhain approaches, what is ending in you? What do you have inside that it is time to let go of? No healing is complete until you get beyond recovery. Use Samhain to take the thirteenth step: Transformation. In the Tarot, the thirteenth card of the Major Arcana is Death, and it is ruled by Scorpio. Samhain occurs in Scorpio. The card of Death doesn't necessarily mean physical death (though it can mean that), but more productively, it can be seen as an inevitable heavy change or transformation. Something old must be gotten rid of to make room for something new to be able to come in. Use the magic of this time to say good-bye to an old habit or addiction, an old relationship, or anything else it is time to leave behind. |
'Happy Samhain!' by Liliane Grenier
by Sig Lonegren
Lonegren looks at many other aspects of this season as well: its history, the role of the Crone Goddess, a special apple-bobbing divination practice, and more.
Elsewhere on the planet:
Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights, is celebrated this week, from India to Bali.
Diwali comes from the Sanskrit words deepa and avail and literally means "row of lights." The festival is associated with several Hindu myths about the triumph of dharma (righteousness) over adharma (unrighteousness) and light over darkness.
Padmanabhan explains that one story holds that on Diwali, the Hindu Lord Krishna destroyed Narakasura, the demon and titan of hell who conquered and plundered heaven and Earth.
Fireworks, Lights Brighten Diwali Hindu Festival by National Geographic
Time has come around again for one of the most celebrated and pompously enjoyed festivals of the Indian subcontinent. Diwali is back.
Though I have covered quite a few of the sweet dishes and savouries prepared specially for diwali, there are so many tasty crunchies prepared with special fervour and enthusiasm for this occasion.
Special Diwali Recipes
from Saroj Kering
In Nepal it is known as Tihar:
In other words this festival is meant for life and prosperity.
|Tihar, the festival of lights is one of the most dazzling of all Hindu festivals. In this festival we worship Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth. During the festival all the houses in the city and villages are decorated with lit oil lamps. Thus during the night the entire village or city looks like a sparkling diamond. This festival is celebrated in five days starting from the thirteenth day of the waning moon in October. We also refer to tihar as 'Panchak Yama' which literally means 'the five days of the underworld lord'. We also worship 'yamaraj' in different forms in these five days. |
by Nepal Home Page
This week also brings us El Dia de los Muertos, Mexico's Day of the Dead.
The original celebration can be traced to the festivities held during the Aztec month of Miccailhuitontli, ritually presided by the goddess Mictecacihuatl ("Lady of the Dead"), and dedicated to children and the dead. The rituals during this month also featured a festivity dedicated to the major Aztec war deity, Huitzilopochtli ("Sinister Hummingbird") ...
What do Mexicans celebrate on the "Day of the Dead?"
What is the difference between Halloween and the Day of the Dead? Halloween is based on a medieval European concept of death, and is populated by demons, witches (usually women) and other images of terror -- all of them negative. The Day of the Dead, in contrast, is distinctly different, It is a uniquely Indo-Hispanic custom that demonstrates strong sense of love and respect for one’s ancestors; celebrates the continuance of life, family relationships, community solidarity and even finds humor after death -- all positive concepts!
Day of the Dead by Carl Franz & Lorena Havens
This is an ancient festivity that has been much transformed through the years, but which was intended in prehispanic Mexico to celebrate children and the dead. Hence, the best way to describe this Mexican holiday is to say that it is a time when Mexican families remember their dead, and the continuity of life.
by Ricardo J. Salvador
|Author and photographer Mary J Andrade has a wonderful website exploring the history and culture of El Dia de los Muertos, helping to keep the tradition alive: |
Day of the Dead in Mexico
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