Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism...oh my!
I should have "Catholicism" written up there, too, but it'd disrupt my Wizard of Oz reference.
Look at me! A second blog post in the same month. Let's go, let's go! Keep up the momentum, Kanika.
It takes a LOT to motivate ourselves. Especially if we freelance and work for ourselves.
But as usual, I digress.
I decided to write this post because there were and still ARE interesting events taking place this week.
After discovering one in my own country, I did a bit of digging, and noticed the scope of these events taking place all over the world, sharing similarities and differences.
Mardi Gras, Tuesday February 13
Maha Shivratri, Tuesday February 13 to Wednesday February 14th
Lent, Wednesday February 14th
Ash Wednesday, Wednesday February 14th
Valentine's Day (ahem, #stillsingle), Wednesday February 14th
Chinese New year!, Friday February 16th.
So, after doing my part, it was interesting to find that a lot of the holidays fall on the same days. A noteworthy one to mention - Valentine's Day - as it coincides with Ash Wednesday, an event that takes place based on human sacrifice and fasting. Something that certainly does not happen on Valentine's Day today.
In any case, each one celebrates something "new" or something "changing," based off of something either oppressed. Whether that means it's "dark" or at a different point in civilization that is ready to shift.
Mardi Gras, for example, (a complicated history attached to it), is essentially the celebration before Lent and Ash Wednesday. Alabama being the first state in North America that celebrated the holiday, as opposed to popular belief that it was New Orleans. It's almost a binge celebration where people revel in music, dance and food before they sacrifice some of that for Lent. The meaning of it, "Shrove" Tuesday, translates into "confess." Upon my findings, I also discovered it was banned in the 1700's only when a secret society brought it back in the 1800's by replacing the "debauchery" with lavish balls and parades. But the concept of Mardi Gras seems to be based on letting go, living and being merry.
It's similar to its counterpart, Ash Wednesday, also known as the first day of Lent. The meaning based off of "Dust you are and to dust you shall return." TRANSLATING into...making the most out of life that is short and that involves being a dutiful human, sacrificing and repenting. I am not Christian, so I only have a small understanding of this. It seems to me it's the concept of returning to the originality and source of how God created humans from dust. So honoring that and letting go of things - in a different way. In a way where you destroy oneself a bit to recreate oneself.
While Valentine's Day seems to be a joyous holiday based on love, the way Romans brought in February 14th was a bit morbid. The meaning of love has changed from sacrificial love that cost you your life - AKA martyr - to what it is today. So in a way, it's letting go for the sake of a greater love for either yourself or others.
Now, I may be biased because I have a close connection to my spirituality. But, learning about Shivratri was my favorite in this process. Not only do the ideals and beliefs remain close to my own, but I am witnessing people around me talking about and noticing what it means to grow and thrive from darkness and failure. Essentially, starting over.
The concept of Shiv or Shiva, one of the many Gods Hindus celebrate on this day, is just that. Adored for his compassion and his qualities as an ideal husband, Shiv was also known as the destroyer. Many myths surrounding him involved his sacrifice to save earth and humanity by drinking poison. He had to destroy in order to have creation come through.
The way it is celebrated is interesting. Some believers may fast, but in order to honor Shiv, practices from Hinduism and Buddhism such as yoga and meditation take place. Because night to day is a transformation, believers celebrate it in the evening with prayers and offerings.
Consider this quote:
"Today, modern science also proves that everything comes from nothing and goes back to nothing. It is in this context that Shiva, the vast emptiness or nothingness, is referred to as the great lord, or Mahadeva."
This helps explain why worshippers in India pray for such things like "Oh Lord, destroy me so I can be re-created."
More on this in a second.
Lastly, we usher in a new year in Chinese culture and welcome Year of the Dog! I HAVE to note that Donald Trump happens to be the Year Of The Dog. So, let's see about that...
But this Buddhist holiday has the same concept as discussed above. It's a turn of events, a shift, a renewal, as we welcome Spring and the Lunar New Year.
So what I'm trying to say here is that it's interesting we scroll through Instagram and social media and find ourselves tapping picture quotes that say "move forward. Rejection is God's protection. Without darkness there is no light. You can't start over without destroying your past." Yada Yada.
While many of us millennnials and the next generation want to have no connection to their faith or God because of strict rituals and rules. However, the core is still there. Whether we realize it or not.
Be it Ash Wednesday or Maha Shivratri, we must destroy to recreate. Destroy old habits, toxic relationships, negative mindsets. To make way for the new, for love, for the beauty.
Just another reminder that everything is really connected in one way or another. From history to present and from religion to our new beliefs that we are forming today, it's all interconnected.
And the more we pay attention to that, the more our perspectives on certain things can really shift.
And who ain't down for a new perspective, HEH!?