Ostara & Visakha Puja

*** Due to a change of hosting, our Holidays of the month of April will be published today along with the month of May. We are sorry for the inconvenience.

 The coming of spring and new beginnings lends itself to the celebrations shared by many cultures, many religions and countries around the world. The celebration of life and rebirth is being celebrated everywhere. Of all of them, I’m going to focus on two only.

Ostara the wiccan/witch’s holiday and Visakha Puja Day a Buddhist holiday of Birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha.

Forest 01There are literally dozens of Pagan and Non-Pagan holidays this month. I will definitely add a link at the end of the article, so everyone can check them all out.

Ostara

Contrarily to a popular belief, Ostara is not an April holiday. Usually celebrated between the 20th and the 23rd of March for the beginning of Spring could also be called the Vernal Equinox meaning that the light of day is equal to the length of the night.

Ostara is the celebration of the Germanic goddess of Spring named Eostre. Some arguments exist about the origin of that so goddess. Then again, we are not here to debate the fundamentals of beliefs regarding deities.

Ostara - Pagan
Ostara – Pagan


Little is known about
Eostre other than she made her introduction in literature around the seven hundred A.D. But then, we know that she is associated with the holiday itself representing rebirth, fertility and the awakening of the Earth after a long sleep during winter.

Ostara shares many similarities with the Christian and Catholic holiday known as Easter. However, what sets them apart are the bright colors that comes to mind when thinking about Spring, they also have a door opening ritual and have a family and/or friend gathering to celebrate the beginning of Spring.

Egg Hunt - Pagan
Egg Hunt – Pagan


While Easter (religiously) does not have egg hunts, one might think it might have been inspired by Ostara. But, the family gathering tradition and bright colors (to go to mass), we can see a similarity here. This might be because of the time of colonization and/or quests when Catholics borrowed some Pagan traditions to have them “willingly” convert to their religion.

However, Ostara still has its well define way of celebrating the arrival of Spring either it is simple or complicated remains to the one celebrating the holiday or if one is part of a coven or is a solitary Wiccan or Pagan.

Ostara by Wicca.com

When celebrating Ostara, one might wonder what are the right flowers, incenses and gemstones that are preferred for the arrival of spring. Well, wonder no more as wicca.com has your back and I also decided to share those with you, but for more information you might want to go take a look at their website.

Official Flowers are: Daffodil, Jonquils, Woodruff, Violets, Gorse, Olive, Peony, Iris, Narcissus and any spring flowers that are grown in one’s region at that time of year.

Violet Flowers
Violet Flowers


Incenses are:
Jasmine, Rose, Strawberry, or Floral types.

The Sacred Gemstone is: Jasper

This is the time of year for some pagans/wiccans to begin planting seeds if one lives in the southern States of the United States while in the north, it may be too early for seeding. However, those seed catalogs are definitely out, and gardens are being planted.

Ostara is the perfect time for what we call the opening of the doors. Every window, every door is opened up and the winter dust and stillness of the house is forced out with a good “brooming.”

Visakha Puja Day

This holiday falls on the 29th of April this year and is usually celebrated on the full moon of the sixth lunar month. This is an extremely important holiday to Buddhist because it celebrates three events.

The birth, The Enlightenment and Death of Buddha.

Balance - Zen
Balance – Zen

Buddha discovered the Ariyasacca, or it is also known as the Four Noble Truths:

1. The Noble Truth of Suffering.
2.  The Noble Truth of the Origin of Suffering.
3.  The Noble Truth of the Extinction of Suffering.
4.  The Noble Truth of the Path leading to the Extinction of Suffering.

The holiday is observed through what is called the five or eight precepts. What it means, is that there are eight ways to observe the holiday and those who practises are expected to do between five and eight of them. Although there is a ninth, oddly enough but that one is non-negotiable, but I think you’ll understand the reason why.

Buddha - Zen
Buddha – Zen

1. Offering food to the monks and novices.
2. Going to temples for special observances and listening to Dhamma preaching.
3. Keeping the Five or Eight Precepts, including abstinence from alcoholic drinks and all kinds of immoral acts. 
4. The practice of meditation and mental discipline.
5. The practice of renunciation for a number of days at the temple, during which white robes are worn.  
6. Attending the triple circumambulation ceremony and other Buddhist activities.
7. Organizing an exhibition of the history of the Visahka Puja Day.
8. Hoisting the flag at houses, temples, and government offices.

*The most important are making merit, giving donations, keeping the precepts and practicing meditation.

Overall

Both of these remarkable faiths do not note the most popular religions of the world.  Buddhists represents roughly 10% of the world’s population. Unfortunately, many Wiccans and Pagans are still in the broom closet about their faith and so I can’t say how many of us there are in the world.

Forest
Forest


Either way these two stunning holidays are celebrated by minorities in the world of faith. And I wouldn’t want to leave anyone out, because let’s face it, someone’s going to get left out. I was going to bore you with some other holidays, the three biggies in fact. With 72% of the world either Jewish, Christian/Catholic or Muslim. But we know those holidays fairly well and I’ll all about expanding one’s horizons.

So as promised below are the links to all those great holidays you might want to check out. www.holidayscalendar.com and www.timeanddaate.com/holidays.com.

Artemis

             

           

           

           


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