Fall Festivals and the Goddess Kali – Br. Shankara

November is a month for study of Bhakti Yoga. A bhakti yogi (bhakta) establishes a devotional relationship with God through study, prayer, ritual, and worship. As a bhakta, you practice giving every action, thought, emotion, perception and tendency “a Godward turn.” All your energies and attributes, both positive and negative, are offered to the Divine Presence. Your prayer is for self-surrender and, ultimately, union with your Belovèd.

This Thursday is Hallowe’en — a contraction of All Hallows Eve. In Old English, hallow meant saint, and indicates the Roman Catholic church had incorporated an ancient Northern European tradition — Samhain — into its calendar of ritual observances. In the early 8th Century, Pope Gregory III designated the 1st of November as All Saints Day, honoring saints and martyrs. He also decreed October 31 as All Hallows Eve, a night-time vigil of prayer and veneration. (Note: Samhain means summer’s end — the end of the “light” half of the year, and the beginning of the fearsome “dark” half, with its needs for ritualistic protection.)

In this talk, we take another journey through the ages, visiting fall festivals that celebrate the dead, and explore some mythology and artistic expressions that can be traced back to the Goddess Kāli. We’ll talk about Samhain, All Souls Day, All Saints Day, Hallowe’en (All Hallows Eve), Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), Diwali, and the Festival of the Lanterns, and identify how some of these celebrations have ancient astronomical and ritualistic connections to Kāli Ma.