"When witches go riding and black cats are seen, the moon laughs and whispers, 'tis near Halloween"
October is here! It is the month of pumpkins and spookiness. Yes! it is that time of the year when wearing make-up is a ritual and creativity is at its best. Standing behind an open door to boo at someone wont just cut it anymore. The tradition originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints. Soon, All Saints Day incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows Eve, and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a day of activities like trick-or-treating, carving jack-o-lanterns, festive gatherings, donning costumes and eating treats.
When the rest of the world preps for Halloween, we have made a list of our very own versions of the festival that we have been celebrating for centuries. Read it and let us know if there are any more such festivals that you have celebrated.
Bhoot Chaturdashi or Narak Chaturdashi
As per the Saka era calendar, 14th day of Krishna Paksha in the Hindu month of Kartik is observed as Narak Chaturdashi. Up in North India, it is celebrated as Chhoti Diwali but in the far east of India, it is a day to ward off evil spirits. Bhoot Chaturdashi calls upon the 14 forefathers who are welcomed and warded off on the same day. On the night of Kali Pujo this tradition is followed when evil power is believed to be stronger. Cooking 14 different types of leafy vegetables (Choddo Shaak) and lighting 14 earthen lamps is also customary.
Odisha's Badabadiya Daka
Another similar custom followed in the neighboring state of Odisha is Badabadiya Daka is performed on the day of Deepavali. They light sticks and point it up to the sky for their forefathers asking them to come in the dark and depart in light. Special Puja and offerings are also made for the dead. The 22 holy steps of Jagannath Temple is where the customs are celebrated. The ritual begins in the morning and continues till late evening. The evening sky fills with thick smoke emanating from the burning jute sticks and thousands of devotees chanting Bada Badua.
Pitru Paksha is a sixteen day period in which Hindus honor and pay respect to their ancestors. The final day of Pitru Paksha is the most important known as Sarvapitri Amavasya or Mahalaya Amavasya. During the festival, family members must perform rituals known as Shraddha, as a way of offering food and water to the spirits. This ritual ensures that the spirits of the ancestors are looked after in the afterlife and can progress into heaven. The ritual combines three components, Pindadan( the offering of Pinda to the ancestors), second part of the ceremony is Tarpan (offering of water mixed with kusha grass, barley, flour and black sesame), final part of the ceremony is feeding a Brahmin.
The Night of Records, The Night of Fortune and Forgiveness, Shab e-Barat is a festival observed on the 14th night of Sha'aban, the eighth month in the Islamic calendar. Although it is a festival where people offer prayers to Allah as he writes their destiny keeping their deeds in account. It is also part of Shab e-Barat traditions to visit the graves of their loved ones and pray for the peace of their souls.
On the first day of the dark fourth night of the month of [Gunla] hundreds of young boys, their faces smeared with mascara and painted as cows, trot barefoot along the streets of Nepal’s capital in the Gai Jatra festival; the procession of cows. The annual event, usually in August or September, is one of the Himalayan nation’s most popular festivals. Families who have lost a relative during the past year lead a cow in the procession or dress a boy as the animal, to make sure their lost loved one has a place in heaven. People celebrate this festival not only for their dead relatives but also for peace and harmony among the family members and the city itself.
"Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen, voices whisper in the trees, tonight is Halloween" - Dexter Kozen
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