Saturday, January 14, 2006

Ante Diem XIX Kalendas Februarias

Modern Date : January 14th

Ante Diem XIX Kalendas Februarias
Nineteenth Day to the Kalends of February

This is one of then endotercisus on which mornings could be for voting and afternoons not, or vice-versa.

The Carmentalia celebrations continued this day in honor of the goddess Carmenta. She was otherwise known as Metis, the Titaness of Wisdom. She is also called Car, Carya, or Car the Wise. Carmenta was the mother of Evander.

On this day, an official admission of error was issued by the jurors of the Salem Witch Trial in 1696.

This month is sacred to Janus, the god of Beginnings. The Romans had numerous temples to Janus. Whenever war was declared, the chief magistrate would lead a ceremony in which the doors of the main temple of Janus were opened. In time of peace they were normally shut.

Makara Sankrati
Hindus celebrate the festival of Makara Sankrant, the solar date associated with the sun's journey into Capricorn and the start of the movement into the light part of the year. The festival is celebrated in different ways in different parts of India but always with sweetness. People make treats out of sesame seeds which are associated with sweetness, love and tender feelings and give them to each other with wishes for sweet words.

In Maharashtra, married women get together and receive gifts of kitchen utensils. In Gujarat Sankrant, elders give gifts to the younger members of their families and scholarships are awarded to students in astrology and philosophy. In Punjab, the festival is called Lohari. People gather around huge bonfires and throw into them sweets, sugarcane and rice.

In South Sankrant, the festival is known as Pongal, a name which comes from the special food that is served: newly harvested rice which is boiled in a new pot of milk. In Tamil, the place where the rice is cooked is treated ceremonially: washed with cow dung and water, then decorated with a lotus pattern drawn in powdered rice, depicting the Sun God. People rise before sunrise, bathe themselves and wear new clothes. The pot is decorated with saffron. The rice is offered to the Sun-God on three banana-leaves.

According to Venkatramani, this used to be a four day festival with the first day devoted to a thorough house-cleaning and the second day to cooking the rice which was offered to Surya, the Sun-God. the third day was called Festival of the Cow. Cattle ware washed and decorated with garlands and red saffron and given some of the ceremonial rice. In some parts of India, young men participated in bull-chasing: a net of tamarind fibers decorated with silver coins and gold rings was attached to a bull's horns and trumpets blown to make the bull run helter-skelter while young men vied to snatch the treasure from its horns. The fourth day was devoted to visiting.

In Nepal, people visit holy bathing spots on this day. Some immerse themselves while others flick water on their hands and face and over their heads. Special foods are served including sesame seeds, sweet potatoes, spinach, a mixture of rice and lentils called khichari, meat and home-brewed wine and beer. Married daughters return to their parental homes and mothers bless their children by putting mustard oil on their heads and placed a few drops in the ear for a long life of good fortune. People sit in the sun on this day and have mustard-oil massages. These customs seem to be related to the revitalization of the sun--I'm assuming that the heat and color of the mustard are associated with the sun.

Also today in India the festival of Pongal, which literally means "boiling over," stretches over four days and celebrates the bounteous crops in the fields. This festival is the biggest event of the year for the Tamils as well as for the people of Andhra Pradesh. The first day, Bhogi-Pongal is devoted to Bhogi or Indra, the rain god. The day is linked with the famous mythological tale about Krishna lifting Gobardhan parbat on his little finger. The day begins with an oil bath and in the evening there is a bonfire made of old cloths, files, mats and rugs.

St Hilary's Day
According to British folklore, this is the coldest day of the year.


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