Monday, August 08, 2005

Ante Diem VI Idus August

Modern Date : August 8th

Ante Diem VI Idus August

Sixth Day to the Ides of August

This is one of the dies comitiales when committees of citizens could vote on political or criminal matters.

On this day in 59 BCE, the senate repealed the exile of Cicero, a move that was applauded by all Romans.

Today continues the Opet Festival in Egypt, in which the statue of Amun was ferried in a procession from Karnak to Luxor.

Pliny says about this day, "In the battle against the clans of the Allobroges and Arverni on the river Isere, on August 8th (121 BCE), when 130,000 of the foe were killed, the consul Quintus Fabius Maximus got rid of a quartan ague in action.

August was originally called Sextilis, or the sixth month (after March). It was renamed in honor of Augustus Caesar, the most revered of the Roman emperors.

This is Tij Day in Nepal, also known as Woman's Holiday or Haritalika. It honors Parvati, the consort of Shiva, and Krishna. A married woman may visit her parents on this day. Women wear green saris. As Bhadrapad, the last of the monsoon months begins, it brings the joyful festival of Ganesh Chaturthi. Celebrated on a mammoth scale in Maharashtra, the arrival of Ganesha on the fourth day of the bright half of Bhadrapad is preceded by the celebration of Haritalika, the day of Harita Gauri or the green and golden goddess of harvests and prosperity. A lavishly decorated form of Parvati, Gauri is venerated as the mother of Ganesha. Women fast on the day till the worship rituals are over and wear green bangles, green clothes, golden bindis and kajalto signify their sowbhagya. They distribute beautifully painted coconuts to their female relations and friends and offer fresh fruits and green vegetables to the goddess in a gesture of thanksgiving. When the rituals are over, they eat a feast of jaggery and rice patolis steamed in banana or turmeric leaves, kheer ade from coconut milk and rice and mixed vegetables cooked with spices and coconut milk. Tender coconut water is the treat of this day.

Turning of the Wheel
For Tibetan Buddhists, this is the 4th day of the 6th lunar month -- as the Tibetan calendar begins a month after other East Asian lunar calendars -- and is one of the four great feasts of the year. This summer festival is called the Turning of the Wheel because it marks the moment when the newly enlightened Buddha spoke of the dharma for the first time to his five core disciples. This moment, on whatever day it is celebrated in various countries, is of cardinal importance because it represents the beginning of the Buddhist faith and the first actual formation of a sangha, or community of believers.

The Fourteen Holy Helpers
Apparently a day when one can invoke en masse or separately these saints who protect various groups or from specific harms: Acacius (Jun 22, soldiers), Barbara (Dec 4, lightning, fire, explosions and sudden death), Blaise (Feb 3, throat disease), Catherine (Nov 25, philosophers, students & wheelwrights), Christopher (Jul 25, travellers in difficulty), Cyriac (Mar 16, 8, demonic possession), Denys (Oct 9, headache and rabies), Erasmus (June 2, colic and cramps), Eustace (Sept 20, huntsmen), George (Apr 23, soldiers), Giles (Sept 1, epilepsy, insanity & sterility), Margaret (July 20, possession, pregnant women), Panteleon (27 July, phthisis), Vitus (June 15, epilepsy and his dance). According to Blackburn and Holford-Strevens (The Oxford Companion to the Year, Oxford University Press 1999), this holiday became popular during the 15th century and spread from Germany to Hungary, Italy and France. In some places, the list is longer and includes the Blessed Virgin Mary, and Saints Anthony, Leonard, Nicholas, Roch and Sebastian.