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The following recipe will make approximately 20 lime-sized modakas, a treat for the children, and a traditional offering to Lord Ganesha. It takes about two hours to make them.

Ingredients and Utensils:

  • 1 lb rice flour
  • 2 cups jaggery (or 2 cups brown sugar with 4 tbsp dark molasses added)
  • 2 cups raw sesame seeds
  • 2 grated coconuts (optional)
  • 2 cups melted ghee (melted butter will also work)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Banana leaf or waxed paper
  • A flour sifter or fine sieve
  • An iddli or vegetable steamer

Directions:

Roast the sesame seeds in a pan, without oil, until golden brown (5 to 10 minutes). Crack the seeds by rolling with a rolling pin or pounding. Add 4 tbsp ghee to the jaggery to soften it, and then mix in the sesame seeds and coconut thoroughly. (This mix may be refrigerated in jars for making quick sweets simply by adding a bit of ghee and shaping the dough into balls).

Next sift the rice flour and toast it without oil until it browns slightly – about 5 to 7 minutes. Spread it out on a tray or table top when done, and allow cooling completely.

While the rice flour is cooling, bring approximately a half-gallon of water, with a tsp of salt, to a rolling boil. Put the cooled, toasted rice flour in a bow. And make a well in the middle. Slowly pour a small amount of the hot water into the well and begin working it into the rice flour with your hands.

Keep adding small amounts of the hot water, and work the flour into a ball of dough. It should be moist but not wet when you put it out on the table or breadboard. Knead the dough thoroughly so it is even in moisture and texture.

Next, place water in the bottom of the steamer and bring to a full boil. Spread a thin coating of ghee or oil on a piece of banana leaf or waxed paper. Take a lump of dough half the size of a lime and work it in your hands for a moment to remove the air and then pat it out flat and round on the leaf, about as wide across as your palm. Make it a uniform thickness so it will cook evenly.

Place a lump of the sesame-jaggery-coconut mixture into the center and wrap the dough up around the mixture. Pinch the dough into a cone-shape over the stuffing and wrap the leaf or paper up around it. (The modakas can also be round if desired.) Repeat until you have enough to fill your steamer.

Place the assembled modakas in the steamer, spaced so as to not touch one another. Cover and steam until done (15 to 20 minutes). While they cook you can prepare the next batch. When cool enough to handle, dip the modakas in melted ghee. Now they are ready to offer.

from Loving Ganesa
by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswam

Vinayaka Chaturthi – also known as Ganesh Chaturthi – is a Hindu holiday festival that is observed on on the fourth waxing moon day during the month of Bhadrapada. This is around August or September on the Gregorian Calendar. The purpose of this festival is to honor the very popular Hindu God Ganesha, also known as Vinayaka.

  • Dates vary from year to year.
  • In 2018, the festival runs from September 12 thru Sept 23.

The concept of Ganesh Chaturthi is that Ganesha comes to the home of his devotees on Ganesh Chaturthi day. He brings auspiciousness, hope, success and happiness to all homes. During His brief stay, He removes all obstacles. While returning He takes with him all problems and unhappiness.

Vinayaka Chaturthi is a festival that allows people to call on the power of Ganesh and to receive help from him in removing all of the obstacles that hinder their spiritual or mental path. It is also a time to ask for help in developing spiritual strength and resolve. It is a festival of great hope, joy and celebration that can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of class or wealth.

This remains one of the most widely celebrated festivals in the Country, partly because Ganesh is one of the most popular deities for worship. Ganesha, the elephant-headed son of Shiva and Parvati, is the supreme god of knowledge, wisdom, prosperity and good fortune. He is the Lord who is first worshiped before any holy occasion or puja.

His blessings are often invoked at religious ceremonies as he is the one who can remove all obstacles to success, particularly when people are starting a new business or enterprise. Ganesh is known as the giver of fortune and one who can help to avoid natural calamities. Ganesh is also the patron god of travelling.

Lord Vinayaka is revered as the preserver of all good things and prevents Vigna (meaning obstruction/bad omen). His motto is Shubh-Laabh (good prospect and good prosperity).

The Significance of the Festival

Hindus believe that during Ganesh Chaturthi, Lord Ganesh visits his people on the earth to personally attend to their prayers. Therefore the divine energy of Lord Ganesh descends on the earth in large measures during the event. The idols of Ganesh newly bought and installed act as antennas to receive the energies of Lord Ganesh and transfer them to the people during worship. After the worship, this is why the idols specially installed for the puja are immersed marking the sendoff.

How the Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated:

Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated with great devotion all over India. People bring home murtis (Idols) of Lord Ganesha and celebrate the festival by worshiping the Lord in a special way for a day and a half, 3 days, 5 days, 7 days or 11 days depending on the family tradition and commitment of each individual.

In certain parts of India, such as Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra, the festival is celebrated for ten days and is a very public occasion. Elsewhere it may celebrated in homes, where hymns are sung and offerings made to Ganesh. Sweets are a common offering as Hindu legend has it that Ganesh liked them. On the last day of worship the idol is taken out in a colorful and musical procession to be immersed traditionally at a beach.

Rituals during the festival include:

  • Pranapratishhtha – the process of infusing the deity into a murti or idol.

Several months before the start of Vinayaka Chaturthi, a large clay statue of Ganesha is crafted. There is no set size limit for this murti, it can be smaller than an inch or be over twenty feet tall, depending on the person making it. This murti is then either placed in homes or set up in specially made tents so that people can pay respect to it.

If you are interested in making one of your own, here’s a link to a short simple tutorial on how to make one out of paper mache. Some artistic ability is helpful but not required. Make A Paper Mache Ganesh

Ganesh Chaturthi starts with the installation of these Ganesh statues in colorfully decorated homes and specially erected temporary structures mantapas (pandals or colorful temporary shrines) in every locality. The mantapas are decorated specially for the festival, either by using decorative items like flower garlands, small banana saplings, lights, etc or are theme based decorations, which depict religious themes or current events.

The statues are worshiped with families and friends. The priest, usually clad in red silk dhoti and shawl, then invokes life into the statue amidst the chanting of mantras. This ritual, also known as Pranapratishhtha, is done to breathe life into the idol.

  • Shhodashopachara – 16 forms of paying tribute to Ganesha.

After life is breathed into the image of Ganesh, people pay respect to the murti by offering it all kinds of different items. The offerings include 21 durva (trefoil) blades of grass, red flowers, coconut, jaggery, 21 modakas. The statue is anointed with Kumkum and Sandalwood paste. Vedic hymns from the Rig Veda, the Ganapati Atharva Shirsha Upanishad, and the Ganesha stotra from the Narada Purana are chanted.

For the next ten days, the statue is worshiped.

  • Uttar Puja – saying farewell before the murti is moved.

Uttar Puja is performed in order to provide a farewell to Lord Ganesh just before the immersion. Here is the step by step procedure of Uttar Puja.

Light a lamp near the idol and decorate the idol with flowers. The puja will consist of offering Achamaniyam (water to drink), Sankalp (determination), chandanarpan (sandal paste), pushpa puja (puja with flowers), Durvarpan (offering durva grass), dhopp and deep darshan (offering incense and camphor light), Nivedan (offering some dishes and fruits). Say the prayers, chant Ganesh mantras and then do arati. Then do namaskar and move the idol a little with your right hand to mark the conclusion of uttar puja.

  • Ganpati Visarjan – immersion of the idol in the river.

On the eleventh day, after the Uttar puja, the Ganesh idols are taken in procession with a huge fanfare to the water bodies. The crowds shout the names of Ganesh in ecstasy and make the procession a colorful and vibrant event. The idols taken in the procession are of different sizes, models and colors. They are carried through the streets for all to see. When this has concluded, people once again pay homage one last time before they are taken to the river and submersed.

The divine energies in the idols are transferred to the waters and then to the larger world. Therefore through the process of Visarjan, three objectives of the devotees are fulfilled namely saying thanks to Ganesh for the favors received, giving a sendoff to the Lord and sending the divine powers of the Lord for the benefit of all.

The idols are immersed one by one in the waters either manually or with the help of a crane. Usually, curd rice or puffed rice is made a bundle and sent along with the idol as a mark of giving food for the deity to have while journeying. After the visarjan, some sand is collected from the spot and sprinkled around the home.

  • Alternatively:

Many of the Ganesh idols will be placed outside under Bodhi Trees (Sacred Fig). The Bodhi tree is revered as a great source of remedies and is used to treat up to 50 different ailments. It also has a unique ability in that it can produce Oxygen at night-time instead of Carbon Dioxide. These healthy aspects of the tree make it a popular place for people to go to worship, as it is seen a great healer to naturally cure illnesses.

Performing A Puja At Home:

Every Hindu puja starts with the invocation of God in the object of worship in order to accept the puja and prayers. After the puja, there is a ritual called ‘Yathasthan’ meaning giving a sendoff to the deity worshiped. This is the spirit and logic behind Ganesh Visarjan also. Spiritually, this process prepares a man to move from the form to the formless state of God.

Here are the things which you will need for Ganesh Chaturthi Puja.

  • An idol of Lord Ganesh.
  • Chandan or sandalwood paste.
  • Red flowers, preferably Hibiscus flowers.
  • Incense sticks.
  • Durva grass.
  • Modakas (here’s a recipe) or any sweet made at home after taking bath and without having any food.
  • Some fruits.
  • A Chaurang or elevated table to place the idol.
  • A cloth to cover the table and things to decorate it like lights.
  • Diya to light in front of the idol for Aarti.

Preparation for Ganesh Chaturthi Puja at Home

Sweep and wipe clean your house. Bring the idol of Ganesh at home and you can invite your friends and relatives for the Puja. Let your entire family gather at the time of Puja. Recite Ganesh Shlokas to welcome the Lord in your house.

Many families invite Pandits or Brahmins to do Ganesh Chaturthi Puja at home so that they can perform the Puja of Lord Ganesh the right way. For any Puja or Vrat you need two things – cleanliness and devotion. This will help you get the blessings of Lord Ganesh.

  • Clean your house and take bath. Wear fresh clothes and get ready for the puja.
  • Prepare the Ganesh mandap with coconut or banana leaves. You can use mango leaves and flowers also to decorate it. Some decorate it with leaves of the Ashoka tree.
  • A pot filled with water and rice is installed near the idol of Lord Ganesh.
  • Now place the idol of Lord Ganesh saying ‘Om Ganeshay Namah’.
  • Start the Puja by chanting 108 names of Lord Ganesh or chant simple Ganesh mantras.
  • Light the Diya or lamp and offer Aarti to the Lord by singing hymns especially dedicated to Ganesh or Ganesh Aarti.
  • Offer Naivaidya of special recipes and fruits to Ganesh Jee.

There is a significance of number 21 in this Puja and so people offer 21 Durva grass blades and 21 Modaks. 21 signify – 5 organs of perception, 5 organs of action, 5 vital airs, 5 elements and the mind.

However, when you are performing Ganesh Chaturthi Puja at home you can be flexible. All you need to have is clean body and mind and the thing that is most important is devotion and not the ritual. So, try to keep things simple and concentrate on the Puja.

Information collected from various sources

Aries is the first sign of the zodiac. The sun enters Aries at slightly different times each year, usually around March 21, sometimes the day before or the day after.

  • Symbol: The Ram
  • Element: Fire
  • Gemstone: Diamond
  • Keyword: I Am

Arians like responsibility and enjoy managing and organizing others. They are magnetic and outgoing, inspiring others to action with their drive and enthusiasm. Arians can be tactless and impatient at times. They enjoy taking risks, and often find this stimulation in adventurous, outdoor activities.

From 365 Goddess, we have this for today:
  • Theme: Arts; Excellence
  • Symbols: Stone, Mirror
  • Presiding Goddess: Ishikore-Dome

About Ishikore-Dome:

This Shinto goddess is the protectress of all stone cutters and smiths, having fashioned the mold from which an eight-petaled mirror was made for Amaterasu (the sun goddess). The beauty of Ishikore-Dome’s creation was such that Amaterasu came out of hiding, bringing spring’s wonderful sunshine with her! Similarly, Ishikore-Dome tempts us to come out of our home-cave today, explore and express our talents, and enjoy the warmer weather.

To Do Today:

The sign of Aries is said to produce a feisty, courageous spirit, which is exactly what it takes sometimes to stop being the proverbial wallflower and try new things. If there’s an art form you’ve always wanted to try, or one that you love but hesitate to try because of perceived shortcomings, let Ishikore-Dome’s encourageing energy nudge you into action today. Remember, Buddhists believe that developing artistic proficiency comes down to three things: practice, practice, practice!

To conduct yourself with greater courage and a unique artistic flair, make a simple Ishikore-Dome charm from a small mirror. Face-down on the mirror, glue a symbol of the area in your life in which you need more creativity, mastery, or mettle and carry it with you. This symbolically reflects your desire to the goddess.

More About Sun in Aries:

The Sun is in Aries from March 21 to April 19, depending on the year.

  • Ruler: Mars
  • Season: Spring
  • Modality: Cardinal
  • Metal: Iron
  • Stone: Amethyst, Diamond
  • Color: Red
  • Flower: Honeysuckle
  • Anatomy: Head, face.
  • Attributes: active, initiating, leading, independent, aggressive, impatient, combative, energetic, pioneering, naive, assertive

Aries is the first sign of the zodiac, and Aries natives are the first to start—and the first to finish—whatever they set out to do. Aries is an active, energetic sign. People with Sun in Aries are direct, straightforward, and uncomplicated. They expect the same from others, and are baffled when they don’t always get it.

The body comes first with Aries. Sun in Aries people are natural athletes. At the very least, their natural inclination is to use their bodies to get things done. They’re not given to long, drawn-out emotional moments; nor are they big on planning ahead. Instead, they live their lives simply. What is happening right now is most important to Aries. Impatience is a definite vice, and innovation is a huge strength.

Aries loves to start anything new, and they have trouble sitting still. They are pioneers in whatever they do, and there is a very basic quality of bravery in these people that is unmistakable! Aries generally knows what they want, and they know the quickest route to getting it. They take shortcuts if they must, but generally everything is aboveboard. Underhanded just isn’t their style.

Some Aries people are bold, but even the quieter ones are brave and even plucky in their own way. Independence is their birthright. Nothing gets them going more than a fresh slate, the promise of a new day, and a brand new start.

Aries enjoys a challenge, and Aries Suns are happiest when their lives are moving forward and active. There’s a childlike quality to all Aries Sun people, and it’s often quite charming.

Source: Cafe Astrology

Taurus is the second sign of the Zodiac. The sun enters Taurus at slightly different times each year, usually around Apr 21, sometimes the day before or the day after.

  • Symbol: The Bull
  • Element: Earth
  • Gemstone: Emerald
  • Keyword: I Have

Taureans are practical, patient, and determined. As they are naturally cautious, they think before acting. Consequently, they are often accused of being stubborn or obstinate. Taureans love comfort, luxury, and beauty. They insist on the best of everything. They are generous, but like to keep a “nest egg” back just in case it is needed. They are loyal and devoted to their friends.

From 365 Goddess, we have this for today:
  • Themes: Work; Patience; Strength; Courage
  • Symbol: Bull
  • Presiding Goddess: Tauropolos


About Tauropolos:

No goddess could better represent this date other than Tauropolos, the Cretan bull goddess whose name literally means “Bull Lady” (and that’s no bull). Teaching us the virtues of diligence and the rewards of hard work, Tauropolos also has a strong connection to the fields (the plow) and the hearth, where food from the fields is prepared.

To Do Today:

The Cretans were well known for having bull-leaping festivals that honored this goddess, probably as a fertility rite and test of one’s bravery. Oddly enough, this is how we come by the saying “seize the bull by the horns!” So, if there’s an area of your life in which you want to really seize the day, try this simple symbolic spell:

Find any image of a bull (in a magazine, carved out of stone, or in some other form). Put it on the floor, and put a symbol of your aspiration on the side of the image across from you. Say:

Tauropolos, prepare the fields for success;
help me now to do my best.
Leap over the image and claim victory!

If you can’t find bull images, any harvested item may represent Tauropolos instead. If you choose this option, be sure to consume the food later. This way you can internalize this goddess’s tenacity, persistence, and fortitude, then apply them toward successfully achieving your goals.

More About The Sun in Taurus:

The Sun is in Taurus from approximately April 20 to May 20, depending on the year.

  • Ruler: Venus
  • Season: Spring
  • Modality: Fixed
  • Metal: Copper
  • Color: Green
  • Flowers: Rose,
  • Anatomy: Neck, throat
  • Attributes: persevering, down-to-earth, stable, stubborn, possessive, prosperous, dependable, physical, sensual

There is something very solid about Taurus natives, no matter what the rest of their charts say about them. Though they are dependable most of the time, this generally shows itself more in habit than in outright helpfulness.

Taurus natives are sensual folk–and this includes sex, but extends to pleasures in all areas: they delight in the sensual pleasures of food, a comfortable blanket, a richly colored aquarium to look at, the smell of flowers or spring rain, pleasing melodies coming from their stereos, and so forth. Some might even say they live through their senses more than most.

When Taurus natives work, they work hard. They do it with a steadiness that may rarely be considered quick–rather it’s a dependable, plodding, and steady effort that has its payoffs. Security is immensely important to Taurus–some of them actively seek wealth, while others are content to be “comfortable”. The Taurus definition of “comfortable” may not be exactly the same as the rest of the signs, but comfort is definitely a driving force.

Although hard-working, their fixed and comfort-loving nature sometimes makes them appear lazy. This is only because they separate work and leisure so well. When they work, they work hard, and when they play, they don’t really “play” as such…they relax. A Solar Taurus who has kicked his or her feet up is rooted there–you’d be hard-pressed to get them to move. On a mental level, you’ll likely have the same problem. Taureans stick with things and ideas, and therein lies one of the reasons why they are known for their stubbornness. Taurus is a fixed sign, and they have a fair measure of tradition and steadiness in their make-up that keeps them rooted.

The possessiveness associated with Taurus shows up in all areas of life in some way. Taurus likes to own things (and sometimes people). A nice home, a piece of land (this can be modest), a paid-off car, that aquarium mentioned earlier, a couple pets, maybe a solid business…In love and relationship, there is an earthy kind of possessiveness that may be considered jealousy by some, but there is actually quite a difference between being possessive and being jealous. Taurus natives are rarely jealous and petty. They do, however, think of the people they love as theirs–it adds to their sense of security.

Source: Cafe Astrology

April 6 is National Tartan Day. National Tartan Day honors all the Scottish heritage that flows through this nation. From its earliest beginnings, Americans with Scottish ancestry endeavored for that freedom as much as any American. It was in their blood.

It was 400 years before they had declared –

“For we fight not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, but for freedom alone which no good man give sup except for his life.” – from the Declaration of Arbroath

It might be surprising to know that of the 13 governors in the newly established United States; nine were Scots. There are 56 signatures on the Declaration of Independence. Some scholars suggest nearly a third of those signers were of Scottish descent.

Not only can we point to the country’s founding fathers, but of the 43 Presidents who have taken office, 33 have been of Scottish descent.

Those with Tartan blood were and are independent and resourceful. They are prolific inventors and writers. They are talented musicians and artist, experienced leaders and scholars. In the United States today, over 11 million Americans claim Scottish or Scotch-Irish roots. That makes them the 8th largest ethnic group in the United States.

What is a Tartan?

A tartan, is a cloth bearing a pattern of overlayed checks in several bright colors. A plaid, contrary to popular usage, “is actually a blanketlike piece of tartan worn over the shoulder.”

Tartan is Scotland’s famous patterned woven textile. It’s the most recognizable pattern associated with Scotland. Tartan consists of “interwoven vertical and horizontal lines, known as a sett,” according to Scotland’s National Tourism Organisation. The pattern is seen on shirts, kilts and other clothing.

How To Observe Tartan Day:

  • Check local civic websites for parades, ceremonies and events.
  • Wear your tartan
  • Use #NationalTartanDay to post on social media.
  • Create a tartan that is unique to your ‘family clan’.
  • Attend a Tartan Day parade. One of the largest Tartan Day parades is held in New York City.
  • Learn Highland dancing which originated in the Scottish Highlands.
  • Eat traditional Scottish foods including Haggis, Scottish porridge, Scotch broth and shortbread cookies.
  • Play golf. Golf originated in Scotland during the 15th century

So you want to wear a traditional kilt on National Tartan day and you aren’t sure how to get it on properly? Here’s a video showing how to correctly fold and wear the Scottish plaid, a step by step guide to becoming a real highlander!

National Tartan Day Facts & Quotes 

  • Rachel Walker holds the Guinness World Record for wearing the most Tartans within 60 seconds. Walker managed to put on 4 kilts within 60 seconds.
  • According Martin Martin, author of A Description of the Western Islands of Scotland, a tartan served to distinguish residents of different regions. Eventually, the tartan was used as a symbol of belonging to a specific clan.
  • The major languages spoken in Scotland are English, Scottish Gaelic and Scots.

Photos for National Tartan Day:

Hans Wild’s photos from the 1940’s capture the intricate detail of Scottish culture down to the shearing of a wooly sheep and the fingering on a traditional bagpipe melody. Pride, in both national heritage and familial lineage, courses through the images. It was, after all, a matter of serious — and legal — business, as the magazine laid out clearly: “A person who wears the crest of a clan of which he is not a member may be fined £8 6s 8d.”

And just for good measure, here’s one last pic:

Sources:

Quan Yin’s Birthday is commonly celebrated on the 19th day of the 2nd lunar month, which in 2018 falls on April 4. The birthday of the Goddess of Mercy is a celebration of the Bodhisattva (“Buddha-to-be”) of infinite compassion and mercy.

Alternate spellings include:

  • Kwan Yin
  • Kuanyin
  • Kuan Yin
  • Guanyin

One of the deities most frequently seen on altars in China’s temples is Quan Yin. Quan Yin, the Buddhist Heart of Mercy and Queen of Compassion, is no forgotten deity but among the most popular on Earth today. The most beloved of Buddhist deities, he or she is accepted not only by Buddhists but also by Japanese, Chinese, and Koreans.

On her birthday, young men and women come together and burn joss sticks and worship the goddess either in temple halls or court areas. Some devotees also offer oil for the lamp of Guan Yin. This is an offering meant for peace and health.

Common dishes served on this day include porridge, fried koey teow and noodles, which stays true to authentic Chinese cuisine. All dishes served at the festivities are typically vegetarian as well.

Quan Yin is the Bodhisattva of Compassion. In Sanskrit, her name is Padma-pâni, or “Born of the Lotus.” Quan Yin, alone among Buddhist gods, is loved rather than feared, and is the model of Chinese beauty.

She is a tireless, ever-vigilant protective guardian. Although her appearance is milder than that of a warrior spirit, she is no less powerful. Kwan Yin achieved nirvana but refused to leave Earth as long as any person still suffers. Kwan Yin vows that if you call her name in times of anguish, she will come and assist you.

There are three different dates celebrated as her birthdays; when she was born, when she achieved enlightenment and when she became a nun.

Guan Yin is known as Bodhisattva of the infinite concern in East Asian Buddhism. It is believed that Guan Yin can take different forms to help others. Therefore, she can be represented by either having a female or male body.

Goddess of Mercy was first described in the Lotus Sutra in the 5th century by Gautama Buddha. She was originally born a xian (holy spirit) reincarnated as a Human to help mankind.

It was told that she had the power to assume whatever form, whenever necessary to alleviate suffering, and to convey sympathy and compassion. She became a saint after her death, and was given the name of Guan Yin by her worshipers. It is said that anyone praying to the Goddess of Mercy would be cured of all illnesses.

This deity has been depicted as both masculine and feminine and sometimes as transcending sexual identity (with soft body contours but also a moustache).

The Lotus Sutra, or scripture, says Avalokitesvara (the deity’s Sanskrit name, meaning “the lord who looks in every direction”) is able to assume whatever form is needed to relieve suffering. He/she exemplifies the compassion of the enlightened and is known in Tibet as Spyan-ras gzigs, “with a pitying look.”

Kuan Yin, the Chinese name, means “regarder of sounds,” or “of the voices of the suffering.” The Japanese word for the deity is pronounced “Kannon.”

Women especially celebrate Kuan Yin. In Malaysia, hundreds of devotees bearing joss sticks, fresh fruit, flowers, and sweet cakes gather twice a year at temples dedicated to Kuan Yin in Kuala Lumpur and Penang to pray for her benevolence. (She is feminine there and in China, Korea, and Japan.)

At the old temple at Jalan Pitt, Penang, puppet shows are staged in celebration of her. In Hong Kong, Kuan Yin is honored on the 19th day of the sixth lunar month at Pak Sha Wan in Hebe Haven.

Information collected from various sources.

Hana-Matsuri refers to the memorial service performed at temples throughout Japan to celebrate the birth of Buddha on April 8th. It is formally called Kanbutsue. On this day, small buildings decorated with flowers are made at temples and a tanjobustu (baby Buddha figurine) is placed inside. This figurine is sprinkled by worshipers using a ladle with ama-cha, which is a beverage made by soaking tea leaves in hot water Some people take this ama-cha home and drink it as holy water.

Shakyamuni Buddha was born approximately 2,500 years ago under the Bodhi tree in the garden of Lumbini (Nepal) to the Sakya King Suddhodhana and his queen, Maya. When the child was born, flowers bloomed, birds sang and sweet rain fell from the heavens above.

The infant Buddha took seven steps in the four directions and with one hand raised to the sky and the other pointing downwards proclaimed,

“Whether above the sky or below the sky, I am most noble and high. I am here to bring peace to all the sentient beings in the world who are suffering.”

The event is commemorated in Buddhist temples across Japan as the birth anniversary of the Shakyamuni Buddha. The day is celebrated with parades featuring images of the baby Buddha, the white elephant seen by his mother in her dream just before his birth and cherry blossoms carried by children dressed in traditional Japanese clothes.

Coincidentally, the sakura (cherry) trees bloom at this very time, and so are given as offerings to adorn the nativity celebrations and ‘amacha’, sweet tea symbolic of the heavenly rain is poured over the baby Buddha by children.

Source: Journey Mart

The spirit of Poland’s Dyngus is captured in this description from the Poznan region during 1800s:

Poland’s Dyngus, or Smigus, Day is said to hark back to the baptism of the founder of Polish Christianity, Prince Mieszko I (c. 935 – 992), and his entire court, on Easter Monday, 966. Dyngus is an ancient celebration which is still observed both in country villages and the big cities, with singing, pranks, visiting friends’ houses, and the custom of dousing.

The custom of pouring water is an ancient spring rite of cleansing, purification, and fertility – at this time of year there are drenching customs enacted in Sri Lanka and Thailand during their respective New Year celebrations. In a Spring custom of pagan (pre-Christian Slavic) times, the Poles ‘confronted’ (dingen) Nature with their pouring of water and switching with pussy willows to purify themselves for the year ahead. The alternative name for the day comes from smiganie, meaning ‘switching’.

(Boys, don’t do this at home.) On Easter Monday, at around 5 am, the men creep through a neighbour’s window or chimney, often with the collusion of the male family head, into the rooms where the sleeping womenfolk are abruptly awakened by being doused with water. The girls, naturally enough, reciprocate in kind. In cities, where people are refined and perhaps girls more aware, this custom tends to be practised by the use of a sprinkle of water or cologne.

In the first recorded Polish writing on Dyngus Day; a medieval Polish historian wrote of what he termed the Oblewania.

Barely had the day dawned on Easter Monday when I woke the boys and gathered some water to start throwing it on the girls. Up with the Piwezyny! (eiderdown)! There was screaming, shouting, and confusion. The girls are shrieking and hollering, but in their hearts they are glad because they know that she who isn’t gotten wet will not be married that year. And the more they are annoyed, the more we dump water on them calling, Dyngus – Smigus! Then we had to change our clothes because there wasn’t a dry thread on the girls and we boys were not better off.

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Earth Day is a name used for two similar global observances. While some people celebrate Earth Day around the time of the Vernal Equinox, others observe the occasion on April 22 each year.

Earth Day aims to inspire awareness of and appreciation for earth’s environment. Typical ways of observing Earth Day include planting trees, picking up roadside trash, conducting various programs for recycling and conservation, using recyclable containers for snacks and lunches. Some people are encouraged to sign petitions to governments, calling for stronger or immediate action to stop global warming and to reverse environmental destruction. Television stations frequently air programs dealing with environmental issues.

Symbols used by people to describe Earth Day include: an image or drawing of planet earth; a tree, a flower or leaves depicting growth; or the recycling symbol. Colors used for Earth Day include natural colors such as green, brown or blue.

Note:

This observance arose from an interest in gathering national support for environmental issues. In 1970, San Francisco activist John McConnell and Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson separately asked Americans to join in a grassroots demonstration. McConnell chose the spring equinox (March 21, 1970) and Nelson chose April 22. Millions of people participated, and today Earth Day continues to be widely celebrated with events on both dates.

The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival was held on the Full Moon in April. There was a procession of decorated boats up and down the rivers and lakes in the moonlight. Everyone participated, for they believed that this pleased the dragons who brought life-energies to the community. They would throw flowers into the water to carry their blessings and wishes.

To the Chinese, dragons were not loathsome creatures to be avoided, but rather wise, powerful beings who could help in many ways. Dragon-lovers of today realize the same thing and court their friendship. Dragons are powerful allies. This is an excellent time to bless boats, whether or not they are decorated as dragons. The ancients said that each boat had a spirit built into it, and if that spirit were dissatisfied or angry, the boat would not handle properly in the wind and waves.

If you have a boat, large or small, consider using a boat blessing ritual to improve its safety and performance. If you don’t have a boat, this ritual can also be used to bless cars, bikes, motorcycles, or whatever you use for transportation.

Note:

Dates for this festival vary widely from year to year, and from region to region. Most generally the dates given are either in May or in June.

From: Moon Magick

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