Sunday December 17, 2017

Is October a month of celebrating Weird and Exquisite Festivals? Here is a List!

Festivals help us get rid of our monotonous life once in a while and create cultural harmony

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Fireworks near the clock tower, Canada. (Wikimedia Commons)

October 8, 2016: Festivals play an integral role in relieving ourselves from the monotony of life. They create an environment of cultural harmony. All these festivals are exquisite as well as weird. Few of them celebrated in the month of October are-
i. Nagasaki Kunchi
It is one of the most popular festivals of Japan. Dragon Dance is the most popular tradition of this festival. Each district participates once a year. The festival ends when the empty mikoshi returns to the shrine after the god has departed.

ii. Naga Fireball festival
This festival is all about the mysterious appearance of fireballs above Mekong River in Thailand. Tradition says that fireballs come from the breath of Naga, a mythical serpent that haunts the river. Though, some people believe that fireballs are actually bubbles of methane from the river.

iii. Oktoberfest
It is the largest Volksfest across the world celebrated annually at Munich, Bavaria, Germany. The festival was first celebrated as a royal event. Now, every year approximately 6,000,000 litres of beer is consumed along with some pork sausages, roast chicken and roast ox. Apart from all the eating and drinking, there are parades, traditional music and German amusements, folk costumes,etc.

iv. Tübingen Duck Race
Every year, people of Tübingen, Germany participate in the annual duck race. Anyone with a rubber duck can participate. All you have to do is stick your name and number on the duck, attach a metal to the underside and release the duck. Winner gets a €1,000 holiday voucher. So if you want to see thousands of rubber ducks floating downstream, Tübingen is the place for you.

v. Vijayadashmi
Vijayadashmi or Dussehra is celebrated on the tenth day of the Hindu autumn lunar month of Ashvin. The first nine days are celebrated as Maha Navratri. Dussehra signifies the slaying of Ravana by Lord Rama.

vi. Phuket Vegetarian Festival
Also known as Nine Emperor Gods festival, it is a nine-day Taoist celebration, observed in the South-east Asian countries. It is believed that once, a Chinese opera group got sick while performing on the island. They started praying to the Nine Emperor Gods to cleanse their body and spirit and restricted to the vegetarian diet. Soon the group made a complete recovery. This festival is not for the faint heart. The celebration consists of self-mortification acts including puncturing of cheeks.

vii. Diwali
Diwali is one of the most auspicious festivals of the Hindus. People light small lamps with oil to celebrate the victory of good over evil. It celebrates the homecoming of Lord Rama after he defeated Ravana, King of Lanka, and rescued his wife, Devi Sita.

viii. Halloween
Halloween is celebrated an evening before All Hallow’s day, on 31st October. The festival is thought to be originated from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would wear costumes to wander off roaming ghosts. Today this festival has transformed into a child-friendly celebration with trick or treat.

by Diksha Arya of Newsgram. Twitter: @dikshaarya_53

  • Antara

    October is indeed a month of grand festivals!

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NASA Releases Spooky Space Playlist for Halloween that will Unnerve your Spine

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Space playlist for Halloween
NASA has released space playlist for Halloween. Pixabay.

NASA has released a spine-chilling space playlist for Halloween that is made through the sounds of planets and helium present in the solar system.

  • The space playlist for Halloween by NASA comprises of more than 20 tracks of the sounds of the giant Jupiter, movement of it’s moon, comet encounters, waves and various others.
  • The track has the sound movement of Ganymede, Jupiter’s largest moon, recorded by Galileo’s Plasma Wave Experiment instrument.

The scientists at NASA have used data sonification by converting radio emissions apprehended by spacecraft instruments into sound waves to understand the signals.

Space playlist for Halloween
Jupiter’s movement has been used to make the space playlist for Halloween. Pixabay.

ALSO READ: Send your Name to Mars and Get a Boarding Pass by NASA

It has been stated by NASA that the Juno’s Waves instrument recorded the encounter of it’s Juno spacecraft navigating past the borderline of Jupiter’s magnetic field. The track was recorded on June 24, 2016 with a timespan of about two hours. This spooky space playlist for Halloween is eerie enough to be used as a background score in horror movies!

-Prepared by Bhavana Rathi of NewsGram. Twitter @tweet_bhavana

 

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Halloween is almost here! Here is everything you would want to know about this festival and more!

Did you know Halloween was originally the time when dead souls returned to ‘visit’ their homes and families? 

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Halloween
Wondering what Halloween is all about? Pixabay

Have you ever seen a witch, dressed in black from head to toe with long glittery nails roaming the streets? Or how about that ghost in tattered clothes and a wooden stick in place of one leg? No, I am not talking about some movie plot, I am talking about all the Halloween things!

Halloween is pretty new to the Indian culture, with the festival garnering interest only in recent years. However, it still is only an attraction only in metro cities wherein you might find people dressed in scary costumes to get into the spirit of Halloween.

Origin of Halloween

The Halloween party culture was never really just that; the origin of Halloween traces its roots in the Festival of Samhain, which was celebrated among the Celts based in ancient Britain and Ireland more than 2000 years ago.

ALSO READ Halloween: Unknown facts that will surprise you with Night of the Dead!

Summers recede by November 1 when in the previous times, the herds from pastures returned and land tenures were renewed. But that was not all that came with the winters. The Celts believed that it was during this time that the dead souls returned to visit their homes and families.

Did you know Halloween is a 2000-year-old festival? 

According to tradition, people would visit each other’s houses and beg for ‘soul cakes’ – this is where the tradition of trick or treat came into being. If they were given a ‘soul cake’, they would then pray for the giver’s dead ancestors.

Origin of Halloween has been associated with several superstitions and religious beliefs. Superstitions are a part of common culture, and they grow as traditions and societies grow. Consequently, people began lighting fires and carved faces on turnips and made lanterns out of them to ward off the evil forces that might try to possess them. Furthermore, Celts began the act of guising (the word ‘disguise’ emerged from this); wearing costumes resembling the dead, so that the spirits consider them as one of their own and leave them alone.

Halloween
A man in a disguise for Halloween. Pixabay

In medieval Britain, the culture was to move from door to door asking for food. In return, a prayer was made for the dead. These people would also carry hollowed turnips as a lantern. The candle in the middle was believed to be symbolic of a dead soul trapped in purgatory. Superstitions governed that the candle and its fire was to scare the evil forces away.

It was in North America in the 1800’s when turnips were replaced by pumpkins for the mere reason that they were available in large quantities and were easier to hollow out and carve.

Did you know Halloween was originally the time when dead souls returned to ‘visit’ their homes and families? 

The festival gradually entered the American culture in the mid-19th century when an increasing number of European immigrants began settling in the USA. These immigrants that also comprised of people from Ireland brought their local traditions and Halloween costumes that were then adopted by the American population as new customs.

It was by the middle of the 20th century that Halloween became a widely celebrated holiday.

Halloween Traditions

  1. Jack-o-Lanterns

Pumping carving is one of the most common and famous Halloween traditions.  The pumpkins with the demonic face carved on it are what is called the ‘Jack-o-lanterns’.

Legend has it that a man named Stingy Jack repeatedly trapped the Devil and allowed to let him go on the condition that Jack would never go to Hell. Upon his death, Jack found that Heaven did not want his soul due to his devilish dealings, upon which he was left on the Earth as a ghost for eternity.

It was then that the Devil gifted Jack a lump of burning coal to light his way, which Jack carried everywhere inside a hollowed out turnip.

Halloween
Turnips were hollowed out and carved before popular culture took over and carved pumpkins became synonymous with Halloween. Pixabay

Consequently, locals began hollowing out and carving demonic faces on turnips, and consequently pumpkins to guard themselves against evil spirits like Jack of the Lantern.

  1. The Ghost Costumes

Another Halloween traditions that make the festival so unique are the ghostly costumes. Since the dead souls were believed to roam on the Earth during Samhain, the Celts began the act of disguise. They began to dress themselves up in similar ghoulish attire to be mistaken for the spirits themselves and be left alone.

  1. Trick or Treat

There are multiple arguments that trace the rationale behind the popular ‘trick or treat’ Halloween traditions.  A popular belief is that the practice stems from the act of guising, also understood as selling. In the middle ages, Celt’s children would go from door to door asking for food and uttered a prayer in return. Eventually, the prayer was replaced by other less-religious activities like a song, joke, poem, etc.

According to some believers, the modern day ‘trick or treat’ tradition traces its roots in belsnickling, a tradition followed in German-American communities where the children would disguise themselves in different attires and have the adults in the neighborhood guess their identities. The children were then rewarded with gifts or food if nobody could identify them.

  1. Black Cats

Cats are unpredictable and have a royal appeal. Their mystical vibe makes them all the more attractive. Black cats are known to have a spooky connotation since the middle ages when they were considered as a symbol and ally of the Devil. Centuries later, alleged witches were often found to house cats, especially the black ones as companions.

Halloween
Black cats and Halloween go hand in hand. Pixabay

This prompted people to think of them as allies, who then believed that cats assist witches in their ‘black magic’ and possessed some mysticism themselves. The two have been linked ever since.

Things To Do On Halloween

Are you an adult to is too old for a trick and treating and wondering what to do on Halloween? Or are you new to the Halloween stuff?

Did you know initially, turnips were hollowed out and used in place of pumpkins? 

We have a fun and easy to execute list of things to do on Halloween,

  1. Movie marathon

Are you a horror movie geek? Or do you belong to the category who watches horror movies with the lights on? Either way, with or without company, a horror movie marathon will seem like a good idea to spend Halloween. It is going to be all the more fun when you know there are spirits (and people dressed up as spirits) roaming outside.

  1. Solve crime

There is nothing ghostly in this, but there are going to be twists and turns and alleged blood. For those of you who are not into ghost stories, playing a crime-related game would be a good idea! More recently, gaming spaces like the ‘mystery rooms’ have come up in different cities wherein you are locked inside a room with your forced and have to solve a murder mystery to escape. Sounds exciting? Then you must give it a try

  1. Bake A Dessert

Because who doesn’t like desserts? You can always experiment with the designs and the ingredients. How about some blueberry cookies in the shape of a happy face with chocolate oozing out of hollows that look like eyes and strawberry syrup for the mouth?

Halloween
Halloween desserts. Pixabay

Or how about some candy cake with a multitude of flavors and colors?

The festival is indeed meant for ghosts and spirits but who can say no to some sweet tooth cravings? How about some sugar coma?

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Chhath Puja 2017: 5 Interesting and Lesser Known Facts about Hindu Festival Chhath Puja

Here are 5 interesting facts that you should know about the most ancient festival of Chhath Puja.

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Chhath Puja Ritual
Chhath Puja Ritual. Wikimedia commons
  • The festival of Chathh Puja is Celebrated for four days where women fast for 36 hours. 
  • On this festival, God Surya is worshipped for sustaining life on earth and granting Health, Prosperity & Abundance.

Chhath Puja 2017: This year Chhath Puja will be Celebrated from 26 October

Chhath is considered to be an ancient Hindu festival.On Chhath Puja various rituals are performed for Thanksgiving Sun God for sustaining life on earth and granting Health, Prosperity & Abundance.

The word “Chhath” symbolizes the number 6 in Hindi language and the festival begins on the sixth day of the Hindu lunar month of Kartik.The festival continues for four days during which people, especially women, follow diligent rituals including fasting for 36 hours.

Here are 5 interesting facts which you need to know about Chhath Puja:

Chhat Puja is the only Vedic Festival of India: Chhath Puja is considered to be one of the most ancient festivals of India surviving on earth.This puja first finds mention in the Rig Veda which contains hymns worshiping the Sun God and describes similar rituals.

The rituals performed during Chhath have scientific reasons: Rituals in Chhath Puja increases absorption and conduction of solar-bio-electricity in a human body. The processes and the rituals of the Chhath puja aim at preparing the body and the mind of the devotee for the process of cosmic solar energy infusion.

Also Read: Hindu Festival Chhath Puja gives great message to Society, says PM Narendra Modi

Four days rituals are designed in such a way that it benefits the health of the devotee: During the Puja, standing in the river Ganges allows the absorption of energy from the sun which moves along the spine and cleanses the body. This helps in better functioning of the body and calms down the mental state of the devotee. It reduces anger and negativity from the life of the devotee.

Worshipping Sun God on Chhath is prevalent in the ancient Egyptian and Babylonian civilizations of the world: Chhath puja has its international significance as it also celebrated in other countries like Mauritius, Fiji, Trinidad and Tobago etc. as a part of their own traditions & customs.

Chhath Puja hails back to the time of the Mahabharata: Draupati is also considered to be the devotee of Sun God apart from Karna. Due to her devotion toward Surya, she was gifted with the unique power to cure even the deadliest diseases. Through this power gifted by her, Pandavas survived and won the Kurukshetra Battle over Kauravas and regained their kingdom back.