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Death and taxes: People around the world celebrate the inevitable

Here is a list of interesting festivals around the world.

Death and taxes: People around the world celebrate the inevitable

CHENNAI: Halloween is not all about dressing up like your favourite character from your favourite TV show, movie, book or even a game, trick-or-treating, or even heists. It’s about tradition and culture and what death means in different places around the world and how it is celebrated. Here is a list of interesting festivals around the world.

Day of the Dead, Mexico

If you have watched the Disney-Pixar film Coco, you know what this festival is all about. The Day of the Dead otherwise known as Dia de los Muertos is celebrated in Mexico on November 1 and 2. On this day, friends and family gather and pay their respects to loved ones who have departed. They make small home altars called ofrendas and place the favourite food and beverages of those departed. Family and friends also visit their graves and place gifts. This festival celebrates the life their loved ones lived and honours their memory.

Hungry Ghost Festival, China

The Hungry Ghost Festival is celebrated by Taoists and Buddhists. The festival is celebrated on the 15th night of the seventh month and in certain Southern regions of China, it is celebrated on the 14th month. It is said that during Ghost day, the realms of Heaven and Hell, and that of the living world open up. When this happens, spirits enter our world and visit the living. Often, friends and family cook the favourite meals of the dead and serve them to an empty seat as though they were still living. They would also burn incense sticks and joss paper. People release paper boats, lanterns and lamps to guide the spirits.

Gai Jatra, Nepal

Gai Jatra, otherwise known as Sa Paru by locals, is celebrated in the month of August or September. This festival is celebrated to honour the memory of the deaths of immediate relatives in the past year. King Pratap Malla 1641 – 1671 AD, started this tradition after his son died. This was an attempt by him to help his son move to the next life smoothly and also cheer the queen and his subjects who were distraught by his death. In Hinduism, a cow is viewed as a goddess and is very sacred. During Gai Jatra, people dress up as cows and parade with loved ones and family.

Samhain, Ireland

Samhain is a Wiccan holiday celebrated by modern pagans. Samhain is celebrated from October 31 to November 1. This marks the Celtic

New Year, which signifies the end of summer and the beginning of winter. According to Celtic literature, it is during this time of the year that the wall that separates the world of the living and dead gets weak. It is said that spirits visit the living. People celebrate this by going on nature walks, dancing, feasting and even building altars to honour the memory of their loved ones. It is said that Samhain is the origin of Halloween.

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