Celebrating the dead...
Death leaves a heartache no one can heal,
love leaves a memory no one can steal...
From a headstone in Ireland
While death, the end of life, bring sorrow and grief upon every being, the deceased are celebrated or paid homage to or worshiped in many ways all over the world. Different countries, religions, reigns and cultures remember of their lost loved ones and all deceased souls in ways that are different and unique from each other. For some it is about offering and worshiping while for some it is an event celebration. Let's take a voyage around the globe to know more about these intriguing traditions.
Zhongyuan - China
Also called as the festival of the hungry ghost, is celebrated in the 7th month according to the lunar calendar every year, takes a similar form to Halloween in celebration. It is said that restless spirits roam the streets which originally emerged from the lower realm. To keep the roaming spirits from causing mischief, offers are made such as food, entertainment( a specific music celebration called "getai") and “hell money” called joss paper.
Obon - Japan
A Buddhist traditional custom developed into a family reunion holiday, is celebrated to honour the spirits of ancestors. The celebration lasts for three days and the date for celebrating Obon in 2022 has already been fixed as 13th to 15th August, 2022. Main event of the celebration is called Bon Odori: Bon dance, a special performance to welcome the spirits of the dead. Light decorations are used to guide spirits home while the living clean the graves and offer Obon offerings at the family altar.
Día de los Muertos - Mexico
Día de los Muerto, more popularly known all around the world as the "Day of the Dead" is an over two day celebration originated from Mexico. Associated with Catholic celebrations of All saints' day and All souls' day, the aim of this event is to show love and respect for deceased members of ones family. To celebrate the Day of the Dead citizens dress up in funky clothes and makeup, throw parties and parades, make offerings to deceased loved ones and celebrate them with an explosion of music, dance, feats and colours.
Pithru Paksha - India
A 16 lunar day period, dedicated to paying homage to ones ancestors especially through food offerings, is celebrated in months of September and October. Celebrations start early morning on a full moon day and end on the following new moon day, completing a fortnight; hence the name “Fortnight of Ancestors”. The main event of the celebration ”Shraddha” has specific days assigned to honour the spirits of the dead according to their relationship with the living, social status when they died and the nature of the death.
Thursday of the dead - Middle East
A joint-faith celebration (to promote Christian and Islamic religious tolerance in the region) in the honour of the souls of the dead is celebrated on the Thursday before the Easter Sunday every year. It is celebrated by praying for the departed, interacting with the lesser fortunate, exchanging food ( mainly bread cakes called “the yellow roll”) and gifting children with coloured eggs, mostly in yellow.