How Thanks giving or A Harvesting Festival celebrated ….
Dhruva Thapa – first published in Nov. 26, 2009 in Major Online Medias including American Chronicle.
Thanks giving ceremonies and celebrations for a successful Harvest are both worldwide and very ancient. Almost every culture in the world has held or do hold celebrations of thanks for a plentiful harvest but the way of celebration and name may vary.
This Day is to give thanks, traditionally to God, when the harvest season comes to an end. It is celebrated in different ways and at different times in different parts of the world because in ancient time we all have to depend on nature, that’s why ancient people of the world used to worship Nature God in their own way.
Even today with lots of changes in our way of living, thoughts and believes we still worship our Mother Earth and Nature and thanks God for giving us good harvest and keeping us safe from all the natural disasters, natural calamities and similar other tragedies which we can’t avoid as we can’t stop Earth quake and the act of Nature, that’s why we are compelled to worship nature and from ancient time people worship Nature God to keep them safe and far from famine and other natural disaster.
That’s why we thank God and celebrate harvesting festivals just paying our homage to Mother Earth and offer Secret Prayer to bestow us with lots of good fortune. Thanksgiving Day is celebrated with lot of joy and enthusiasm not only in US but other countries as well. But it is celebrated different parts of the world with different names and titles. Let me tell you how and why thanks giving or harvesting festival is celebrated. This festival is symbolizes the feeling of gratitude, people feel towards God for bestowing constant grace and love.
More commonly it is celebrated to thank God for the bounty of autumn harvest. That’s why we see during thanks giving seasons in USA people decorate their houses with harvest, prepare meal, invite guest and feast with Turkey Dinner accompanied with many newly harvested foods and vegetables. Thanksgiving is traditionally celebrated with the customary ‘feast’ shared among friends and family.
It is an important family gathering, and people often travel far distances to be with family members for the celebration. In US the traditional Turkey is the most important dish cooked in every house as part of the feast. Pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and corn dishes also form a part of the family dinner. American football and parade is a yearly feature to mark the celebration of thanksgiving. It is generally a “four-day” weekend in the United States. Friday right after thanksgiving is ‘Black Friday’. It is the official beginning of Christmas season. The day got its name from the standard accounting practice of marking profits in black ink in the US.
While Thanksgiving is a holiday in the United States and celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November, it is celebrated on the second Monday in October in Canada.
It is, however, not a major event in the United Kingdom where it is also known as the Harvest festival. Although the dates of celebration are different, Thanksgiving in Canada is much the same as it is in the United States. In the United Kingdom, Harvest festival is celebrated in late September or October and special services of Thanksgiving are organized at local churches to honor the day.
Jewish people throughout the world celebrate Sukkot, a festival of thanksgiving that lasts nine days.
The Chinese observe thanksgiving as The Festival of the Autumn Moon, or Zhong Qui held on the eighth month of the Chinese calendar.
In Lithuania, the thanksgiving tradition involves the creation of a boba (meaning old woman) from the last sheaf of grain at harvest time. It is believed that keeping the boba until spring keeps the spirit of the crop alive until replanting begins the next year.
Thanksgiving is all about loving, caring, sharing and communal harmony. It is all about being grateful to not only God but also to all whom we care and share our love and respect. It is also the day to relax after harvesting and working so hard and lots of struggles in daily life. Lets see how it is celebrated in Nepal and India.
MAKAR SANKRANTI: A Harvesting Festival!
We never take our any feast and festivals seriously and try to understand its importance we just celebrate it as we have been celebrating it. But have we thought when is our thanks giving day? And how we celebrate in Nepal and Indian Sub continent? Let’s look at it and try to explore our thanks giving day.
Thanks giving is popularly known as harvesting festival and our harvesting festival is Makar Sankranti and for Kirat it is Chasok Tangnam and for Indians it is Lohri in Punjab, Bihu in Bengal, Uttarayan in Gujrat and Rajasthan, Pongal in Kerala, Sankranti in Karnataka and Tamilnadu, Makar Sankranti in other parts of India and Nepal. But in Nepal it is Chasok Tangnam for Kirat and Maghi for Tharu People and for rest of the Nepalis it is Maghe Sankranti.
Maghe Sankranti falls in a mid-winter festival of Nepal and India. The festival is celebrated to mark the transition of the Sun from Sagittarius to Capricorn during the winter solstice in the northern hemisphere (or the beginning of Uttarayana).
The festival is celebrated by taking dips in the Ganga or any river and offering water to the Sun god. The dip is said to purify the self and bestow punya. Special puja is offered as a thanksgiving for good harvest. Since the festival is celebrated in the mid winter, the food prepared for this festival are such that they keep the body warm and give high energy. Specially root vegetables are eaten during this festival, it is said thatyou are what you eat. Our festivals insist us to eat the fruits and vegetables according to our Seasons and body needs, but these things are never studied. why we eat Banana, beaten rice and yogurt in AShar , dry nuts and many fruits in Tihar festival, and roots in Sankranti, we know Root vegetables are rich in potassium, beta carotene, and other essential vitamins and minerals. Whenever possible, always purchase root vegetables . Laddu of til Sesame Ball made with sugarcane juice is specialty of the festival.
Many Melas or fairs are held on Makar Sankranti the most famous being the Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years at one of four holy locations, namely Haridwar, Prayag (Allahabad), Ujjain and Nashik. The Magh Mela (or mini-Kumbh Mela held annually at Prayag) and the Gangasagar Mela (held at the head of the Ganges River, where it flows into the Bay of Bengal). Makar Sankranti falls on January 14 on non-leap years and on January 15 on leap years. It is the only Hindu festival which is based on the Solar calendar rather than the Lunar calendar.
But Chasok Tangnam falls on a full moon day of the month of Senchengla or the Mangsir month of Nepali calendar it is the most important of Kirat Limbu festivals. This festival. “Tangnam” simply means festival in Limbu language. Expertite Limbus in Hong Kong and United Kingdom also celebrate Chasok Tangnam.
Traditionally, Limbus celebrate Chasok Tangnam festival at home with the first harvest being offered to Yuma Sammang (Limbu Ancestor Goddess) and other deities. They worship and thank the Ancestor Goddess Yuma, God Theba, and other deities for a successful harvest of the year.
Like Limbus other Kirat people are also agrarian. Nature worshipping is the main principle in Kirat religion. Chasok Tangnam developed as a festival among Kirat Limbu people to thank the mother nature for harvest and their ancestors for handing down the teachings of agriculture.
“A Historical Perspective of Thanks giving in USA”
“The American Thanksgiving holiday began as a feast of thanksgiving in the early days of the American colonies almost four hundred years ago.
In 1620, a boat filled with more than one hundred people sailed across the Atlantic Ocean to settle in the New World. This religious group or the Pilgrims settled in Massachusetts State. Their first winter in the New World was difficult. They had arrived too late to grow many crops, and without fresh food, half the colony died from disease. The following spring the Iroquois Indians taught them how to grow corn (maize), a new food for the colonists. They showed them other crops to grow in the unfamiliar soil and how to hunt and fish.
In the autumn of 1621, bountiful crops of corn, barley, beans and pumpkins were harvested. The colonists had much to be thankful for, so a feast was planned. They invited the local Indian chief and 90 Indians. The Indians brought deer to roast with the turkeys and other wild game offered by the colonists. The colonists had learned how to cook cranberries and different kinds of corn and squash dishes from the Indians. To this first Thanksgiving, the Indians had even brought popcorn.
In following years, many of the original colonists celebrated the autumn harvest with a feast of thanks. After the United States became an independent country, Congress recommended one yearly day of thanksgiving for the whole nation to celebrate. George Washington suggested the date November 26 as Thanksgiving Day. Then in 1863, at the end of a long and bloody civil war, Abraham Lincoln asked all Americans to set aside the last Thursday in November as a day of thanksgiving.
In 1939 President Franklin D. Roosevelt set it one week earlier. He wanted to help business by lengthening the shopping period before Christmas. Congress ruled that after 1941 the 4th Thursday in November would be a federal holiday proclaimed by the President each year.
In 1988, a Thanksgiving ceremony of a different kind took place at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. More than four thousand people gathered on Thanksgiving night. Among them were Native Americans representing tribes from all over the country and descendants of people whose ancestors had migrated to the New World. The ceremony was a public acknowledgment of the Indians’ role in the first Thanksgiving 350 years ago. Until recently most schoolchildren believed that the Pilgrims cooked the entire Thanksgiving feast, and offered it to the Indians. In fact, the feast was planned to thank the Indians for teaching them how to cook those foods. Without the Indians, the first settlers would not have survived'”.
Sources: http://www.crewsnest.vispa.com and other sources.