Wednesday, November 11

Diwali or Samhain on this Dark Moon Night?

New Moon time today was 5:47 pm in Ireland and UK.

A few people have brought my attention to today, 11th, November 2015, which is a Remembrance Day, New Moon Day, Dark Moon Day and a day of Diwali, which is a Hindu generated Festival of Lights.


Diwali is a beautiful festival, the biggest and brightest of all of the Hindu celebrations, but why am I hearing a lot more about it from more people this year than  ever before? Is this partially to detour attention from Remembrance of those fallen from battles? That is really a huge alternative topic that I will not include here.


Hearing so much about Diwali actually causes me to have a 'flee from it' reaction, despite its beauty and relevance that I am certainly not fleeing from. I will rant  about this for a wee while now before talking of that which is known as Diwali.


With many thoughtful things that bring our attention to seasons, weather and the interactions of nature, and our part of all of this, seem to be paid attention to if  they carry an Oriental or Asian name and a colourful set of images to accompany this.

Some examples in the holistic world are Reiki, Shiatsu, Hopi which has nothing to do with the Hopi tribe, and Qigong. Shinrin Yoku in Japan, Forest Bathing, has caught  my attention.


In the USA, Shinrin Yoku has become completely different. There it has merged with a culture of psychology, order and commerce but still holds the oriental name.

In Ireland, where this can become different again I went local for a name, Boladh na Sióga, Bathing In The Fae's Breath. This was inspired by the wonderful John O'Donohue going local with 'Anam Cara'  

So today here we have the Hindu following people beautifully celebrating the ancient festival, now called Diwali, that I am sure is more ancient that Hindu. It is the familiar and essential theme of this time, and really of this day of Dark Moon, celebrating the triumph of light over dark and good over evil.


Writing this instantly brings my mind to the rituals of Mummers, Guisers, Wassailers and similar who perform between now and Spring, though a lot of that tradition shifted to Yule now.


Diwali, as a word, also has relevance within Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism.

Like the Mummers, there is a story enacted that tells of the homecoming of Lord Rama after vanquishing the demon king Ravana.


This is also a bit like the Irish story of Lugh after slaying Balor, which is also portrayed in Star Wars as Luke salying Darth Vader. In the stories of the Mummers, Lugh, Luke Skywalker and Ram there is the message of forgiveness, and most important, of Resurrection.

Unfortunately, its seems we can too easily focus on the 'Crucifixion' element of these stories and brush over the Resurrection. We become inspired more by the speared anger generated by abuse than the infinite freedom and sense of wholesomeness from forgiveness inspired from resurrection.


Diwali is the Hindu New Year! It is celebrated by millions of people outside of India, Nepal and Malaysia as well as within those countries too. Around the world, on this Dark Moon night, thousands of people will be attending Diwali lights switch-on events, and maybe fireworks events.


Others will engage in more intimate symbolic burning of lamps and candles.


To prepare for this families spend about two or three days before thoroughly cleaning their homes to prepare for this New Year, so 'brooms' and brushes for this are quite sacred too.


Rangoli geometric patterns are created using rice, paint, coloured sand or flower petals and then hung over doors, in entrance ways, and on garden gates to encourage and welcome the goddess Lakshmi.


Diwali seems to be like having the Irish Samhain and Imbolc at the same time. In this regard, the Full Moon, Light Moon, two weeks later, is regarded as the new light, the new year beginning. In Ireland, and nearby, once Samhain has shut us into the winter dark we have to wait until February to be released from it.


Commerce does well at this time of Diwali with the sales of lamps, candles, garlands of yellow and orange flowers and jasmine.


Also sweets are popular ...


so a bit of Halloween in this too :-)

Gifts and sweets may be exchanged today, and happy Diwali wishes and greetings are sent, though largely by social media these days.


Lavish festive meals are prepared from the recent harvests before engaging in what has been stored to use through the year before the next harvests.


In the West we do  this at Thanksgiving or Yule or Christmas, or all of them.

People dress up for Diwali meals too, so the sale of new clothes is lively now too, or the gifting of food and clothes to others to help them celebrate Diwali.


Overall, I am incredibly inspired by Diwali, but I think in Ireland, and within your own country and culture, we should be attentive to celebrating like this with what is local to ourselves. I feel this should not be a day of Diwali where we engage in Hindu foods, dress and customs.

Though, like myself, I am sure you find these are so beautiful and worth trying out any time of the year. More important, join in opportunities to share with the people born into these for our own wilder love of people.

But I am in Ireland, and lived much of my life in Scotland and England too. What Diwali reminds me of is things that we celebrated when I was much younger, things more related to the harvests, weather, length of daylight and stories of where I lived.


I feel it is essentially important to engage in the stories, foods and people of other lands but not lose the presence of where we are. I feel we disconnect  horrifically if we allow ourselves to be transported to wishing we were somewhere else and celebrating that other place in the 'distance' rather than embrace the people and lands around us.


So what is it to you at this time? If you are in Ireland is this time of Dark Moon Samhain for you or Diwali?

Translating this into our common Anglican the Diwali work is more attractive as its about 'light' as Samhain is about entry into 'dark' - but lets think about origins.

Diwali comes from celebrations between the Tropic Of Cancer and the Equator so dark is not much of an issue there. In Ireland, the Arctic Circle is about a quarter of  the distance that the Tropic Of Cancer is from us, and the Equator much, much further away ...


...so darkness is a much bigger issue for us.

Let us stick to our Samhain, I think, but lets learn again from the beautiful Diwali.

What is Samhain to you? October 31st on the modern Gregorian calendar? Sun at 10 degrees Scorpio? the point of Cross Quarter on the Sidereal calender? the point of Dark Moon that is closest to this Cross Quarter point? or ...

The darkness of the night that is closest to the point of the Dark Moon that is closest to the point of Cross Quarter? Phew!


In Ireland, whether we like it or not, we really do have to celebrate the oncoming darkness of the next 11 to 15 weeks, depending on Gregorian date of the night of the  nearest Full Light Moon of Imbolc. In this celebration we can include thanksgiving for the harvest abundance present for now and the winter ahead.


So why not learn from Diwali clean house, put clean clothes on, and engage in stories, food, treats and light?


I am personally being awfully hypocritical here as I read about this, write this, and be reminded of this as the light turns into dark and nobody else is here around me. Will I have learned by lesson to be more thankful and celebrating next November? I hope so. Isn't this what writers do, write about what they need to know? :-)

If this is your Samhain, celebrate well. If this is your Diwali, I know you will :-)


Many thanks to Tara Ní Crábhagáin for reminding me of Diwali, reminding me of things I used to do at this time as a very young lad, and for the link that tells you more, that I cribbed a lot of this from ...

click here for the article Diwali 2015, a UK interpretation