A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Kheer Bhawani Yatra (Kheer Bhawani Mela). Theravada Buddhist Jammu and Kashmir annual festival held at the temple of Mata Kheer Bhawani (Ragnya Bhagwati) in Tulmulla village to celebrate the discovery by a pious Brahmin of a holy spring whose water changes colour, devotees believing that the water turning black is an ill omen. For some, the festival celebrates the arrival of Mata Ragnya, the Queen of the Universe, in the valley. Legend has it that the idol of Goddess Kheer Bhavani, the giver of life, was brought to Tulmulla from the island fortress of Lanka by Lord Hanuman after the epic battle of Ramayana. The idol had been worshipped by the demon king Ravana, who had obtained it after great hardships, but once Ravana had been defeated by Lord Rama, the Goddess had asked Hanuman to move her from Lanka. Kheer Bhawani Mela is observed on the Ashtami day during the Shukla Paksha waxing phase of the moon in the Jyeshta 22 May to 21 June third month of the year in the Hindu calendar, which as the second month of the Bengali calendar is known as Joishthoi. The Jyeshta ( ज्येष्ठ. जेठ jēṭ, জেঠ,: ଜ୍ୟେଷ୍ଠ) month has the most sacred and auspicious of all the 24 annual Ekadashis (eleventh lunar day of each of the two monthly lunar phases) and one can attain the benefits of all 24 Ekadashis by fasting on that day. The name Kheer Bhawani comes from the deity’s favourite offering of kheer, a sweet made with rice, milk, saffron and sugar. The festival (mela) is famous for its local savouries and, after the ceremonial worship (puja) and prayers, devotees feast on local puris (deep-fat fried bread), halwas (confections of flour, semolina, grains and nuts) and lotus stem pakoras (spiced fritters). Image: twitter.com.
Prayer We pray for peace and harmony in Kashmir and for the return to their home valley of the Kashmir Pandits to pay homage with the Muslims. May the many Pandit children who have not seen Kashmir now come to know the ancestral lands in which they have never lived. May Jammu and Kashmir then be bestowed with peace and happiness so that Kashmiri Pandits may return to their homes and happily live out their lives together with their neighbours. Aum Amin Amen
The Apodosis of the Feast of the Holy Ascension. Orthodox Christian and Eastern Catholic Churches’ Afterfeast (leave-taking) eight days after Ascension, which was on the fortieth day after the 2 May Great and Holy Feast of Pascha (Easter). Each major Feast on the Church calendar has an Apodosis (period of celebration) on the last day of its Afterfeast, which may come at the end of an octave of 8 days, analogous to the Western Church Octave. The reason for an Apodosis is for the Church to once again give an opportunity to celebrate the beauty of the Feast. This Apodosis is on a fast day when the faithful are advised to abstain from meat, fish, dairy products and eggs, although wine and olive oil may be permitted. The day following the Apodosis of the Feast of the Holy Ascension is appropriately a Saturday of the Dead (Soul Saturday, general commemoration of all the faithful departed). These 9 days have an air of waiting, a silence hovering over the Church’s liturgy although there is still a certain Pascal joy and expectation in anticipation of the 20 June Holy Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended on the Apostles on the eighth Sunday, the fiftieth day after Pascha. Finally, the 27 June Feast of All Saints will be for those who partook of the waters of piety and harvested the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Image: johnsanidopoulos.com.
Venerable Matt Talbot OFS (1856-1925). Feast Day for poor Dublin ascetic layman revered by many Catholics for his piety, charity and mortification of the flesh. Talbot was an unskilled labourer and lived alone for most of his adult life, although he was with his mother for a time. His life would have gone unnoticed were it not for the cords and chains discovered on his body when he suddenly died on a Dublin street. He had left school at 12 to work in a wine merchant’s store, where he sampled the wares and was a hopeless alcoholic at 13. At 28, Talbot was penniless and told his mother that he was going to take the pledge (renounce drink), which he did for life and maintained sobriety for 40 years, finding strength in prayer and attending daily Mass. He lived a life of fasting and service, trying to model himself on the 6th Century Irish monks. Talbot said: “Never be too hard on the man who can’t give up drink. It’s as hard to give up the drink as it is to raise the dead to life again. But both are possible and even easy for Our Lord. We have only to depend on him.” He was given a light chain to wear as a form of penance, became a Third Order Franciscan in 1890, and when he died chains and cords were found around his waist, arms and legs, as a symbol of his devotion to Mary, Mother of God to whom he had wished to totally enslave himself. Talbot’s story quickly spread and there were many people at his funeral at Glasnevin Cemetery. In 1972, his remains were translated to a tomb in his home church of Our Lady of Lourdes, Dublin. Matt Talbot had become an icon for Ireland’s temperance movement, the Pioneer Total Abstinence Association, with his story being known to the large Irish emigrant communities. Many addiction clinics, youth hostels and statues throughout the world have been named after him. There is a particular devotion to Matt Talbot among some North American Roman Catholics and in Australia among those involved in a ministry to achieve or maintain sobriety, the Matthew Talbot Hostel for homeless men in Sydney being named after him. Venerated in Catholic Church. Patron of people who struggle with alcoholism, addictions. Image: twitter.com.