A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
All Souls’ Day (Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed, Day of the Dead). On the last of the three days of the Celtic Wiccan, Druid, Pagan and Heathen festival of Samhain (Oiche Shamnhna), this is the Christian day to remember and pray for the dead, especially friends and family. The Celtic festival was absorbed into Christianity on various dates and today was eventually declared to be All Souls’ Day, with 31 October known as All Hallows Eve (Halloween, All Saint’s Eve) and 1 November as All Saints’ Day (All Hallows, Hallowmas, Solemnity of All Saints). As Christianity had gained a foothold in Pagan communities, early Church missionaries had held a festival at this time of year to absorb native Pagan practices into Christianity, thereby smoothing the conversion process. Two Pagan festivals of Roman origin had already been combined with Samhain: Feralia in late October traditionally commemorating the passing of the dead; and Lemuria honouring Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees, whose symbol was the apple. The Pagan festival in the Southern Hemisphere at this time is Beltane. On All Souls’ Day, altars and Day of the Dead dishes may be prepared in celebration. The Italian presbyter, saint and mystic St Nicholas of Tolentino (San Nicola da Tolentino, San Nicolás de Tolentino, San Nikolas ng Tolentino), who is known as the Patron of Holy Souls, has been invoked as the advocate for souls in purgatory during November and Lent, with many Augustinian churches holding weekly devotions to him on behalf of the suffering souls. With its roots in antiquity, the idea of purgatory (after-death purification) as a physical place like heaven and hell became Roman Catholic teaching in the late-Eleventh Century. Purgatory was defined by the 1274 Second Council of Lyon, with the belief that the living can help those whose purification from their sins is not yet completed, not only by praying for them but also by gaining indulgences (indulgentia, privileges) for them as an act of intercession, abuses of which were one of the factors that led to the Sixteenth-Century Protestant Reformation. Purgatory in present-day Catholic belief and practice highlights the power of God’s grace, as the ultimate and final surrender of the soul to Him. On 1 and 2 November, Mexican Christians celebrate their Día de Muertos, which day many Venezuelans and Nicaraguans also commemorate on 2 November for their deceased relatives by going to the cemeteries to visit family graves to leave flowers and pray. If 2 November is a Sunday, All Souls’ Day is celebrated on 3 November as the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed. Image: thericatholic.com.
Dhanteras (Dwadashi, day of wealth, धनतेरस), Dhanatrayodashi, धनत्रयोदशी). This is the beginning of Diwali (Deepawali), the Hindu and Jain festival of lights and one of the most auspicious celebrations across India and in the diasporas. The name Dhanteras is formed of two words, where Dhan means money and Teras thirteenth, as it is celebrated on the thirteenth lunar day of the Krishna Paksha dark fortnight in the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin. According to the Hindu epic Ramayana, Diwali is the day that Lord Rama returned to his kingdom Ayodhya with his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana after defeating Ravana in Lanka and spending fourteen years of exile. It is also believed that Goddess Lakshmi was born on Diwali during the churning of the cosmic ocean (Samudra Manthan), thus for many Hindus her worship is most significant during Diwali Puja (worship). Dhanawantri, who is also worshipped on the occasion of Dhanteras, is considered to be the God who imparted the knowledge of life of the deity Ayurveda for the betterment of mankind, and to help rid it of the suffering of disease. People clean their homes to prepare for the events ahead, shop and go to the markets to buy new kitchen items or gold. Buying precious metals such as gold and silver is considered to be auspicious on this day, as is a thirty-minute late afternoon worship of Lord Kubera. To perform the Dhanteras puja (homage), a copper pot with silver coins is filled with water and Om Kuber Namah is chanted. The celebrations are low-key this year due to the coronavirus pandemic and Facebook, WhatsApp and SMS greetings will be sent. In Maharashtra, Diwali festivities begin one day earlier on Govatsa Dwadashi. Image: indiatvnews.com.
Prayer This Dhanteras, may we be blessed with prosperity, good health and happiness. Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, Yama the god of death, Kubera, the god of wealth and assets and Dhanawantri, the deity of health and knowledge who is an incarnation of Vishnu, are remembered and prayed to on this day. Hari Om
Daniel Payne (Daniel Alexander Payne) (1811-93). Lutheran commemoration of the death of the American bishop, educator, college administrator and author. Payne shaped the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), stressing the education and preparation of ministers, and he introduced more order in the church. He became its sixth bishop and served for more than four decades, as well as becoming, in 1856, a founder of Wilberforce University in Ohio. The AME Church bought this college and chose Payne to lead it, and so he became the first African-American president of a college in the USA. By quickly organising AME missionary support for freedmen in the South after the Civil War, Payne gained 250,000 new members for the AME Church during the Reconstruction era. Based first in Charleston, he and his missionaries founded Southern congregations down the East Coast to Florida and west to Texas. He wrote his 1888 Recollections of Seventy Years, a memoir and, in 1891, the first history of the denomination, The History of the AME Church. Payne died on 2 November 1893, having served the AME Church for more than 50 years. Image: youtube.com.