Notes on Antique Textiles, Folk Art & Timeless Traditions – Jaina Mishra
Today is the first day after the NO-MOON night. For the many religions that mark their lives with the moon’s revolutions this date marks the first day of a new Lunar month. Among the Chinese this is the month of the Hungry Ghost.
As I walked down this evening in the estate I live on in Singapore – a complex of about 15 buildings of 18 stories each, I saw many families performing the rituals of making an annual offering to their ancestors. In the twilight just after sunset, families stood in small groups, lit candles and laid out special foods and burnt fake notes.
This reminded me of the Indian lunar month with the same concept. A month is specially designated as the month of Shraadh. And then on the day of the same moon phase on which the beloved departed, the shraadh ritual for that person is held. SO for instance if a father passed away on the 5th day of the lunar cycle his shraadh is observed on the 5th day during the shraadh month.
Favorite foods are cooked especially in his memory. After special prayers, the first offering of all the food cooked is offered kept near a pond or river or in urban areas on the building ledge. It is said that the ancestor comes visiting in the form of a crow to eat the special food and to bless the family.
In this month, no big deals are done and sales of apartments, cars etc show a clear dip.
Two countries – India and China – so different in so many ways and yet so similar.
This is not the only similarity – several parallels exist.
China has the Lantern festival, India has a similar one – Diwali.
India celebrates the Kite festival so does China.
These cultural similarities just scratch the surface of the deep similarities.
It is interesting that the same traditions flow over land masses with hugely different histories!