The mainstream interpretation of Ancestral Veneration is based on the belief that the dead have a continued existence and/or possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. The social or non-religious function of ancestor veneration is to cultivate kinship values, such as family loyalty and continuity of the family lineage. While far from universal, ancestor veneration occurs in societies with every degree of social, political, and religious complexity, and it remains an important component of various religious practices in modern times.
For me, ancestral workings is part of daily life, as it is with many cultures, but it is ‘kicked up a notch’ during the thinning times. A few years ago I provided information on my personal journey with the ancestors, this year I wanted to share how much we have in common as a global community, and how we all view the importance of our ancestors. I plan on taking a deeper a look at some of these over time.
Blessed be, and a deeply given Namaste, to you and those who came before you.
Qingming Festival also known as Pure Brightness Festival or Tomb sweeiping day is one of the Chinese 25 Solar Terms. is a traditional Chinese festival on the 104th day after the winter solstice and is an opportunity for celebrants to remember and honour their ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, joss paper accessories, and/or libations to the ancestors. Prayers are offered to the “Palace on the Sky” as the guardians of the tombs reside there. Money offerings as well as paper effigies of homes, cars and more are also made and burned so that they can reach the ancestor.
A wonderful article can be found at:
2016 – April 2-4, 2017 – April 2-4
Hungry Ghost Festival is a traditional Buddhist and Taoist festival generally held on the 15th night of the 7th month. In general the 7th month is regarded as the Ghost Month, in which ghosts and spirits including those of the ancestors come out from the lower realm. In this instance, the deceased are said to visit the living. This is different from the Qingming Festival in the Spring, and the Double Ninth Festival in the fall, in which the living descendants pay homage to their deceased ancestors. Rituals foods, offerings and incense. New clothing is purchased and laid out for them, and a place is often set for them at the dinner table. They are honoured as active members of the family. At the end of the festival, mini paper boats and water lanterns, often in the shape of lotus, are often released to help give direction to the lost ghosts and spirits of the ancestors, and for those who are forgotten or have no legacy to provide offerings to them, as well as other deities.
An easy to follow step-by-step guide to help understand the basic process can be found here:
2016 this lunar month occurred from August 3-31st, with the Ghost Festival following on August 17th. Next year the Ghost month is from August 22-September 19th, the GF following on September 5th.
Bon Festival is a three day Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors held in August. This Buddhist-Confucian custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors’ graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori. Families send their ancestor’s spirits back to their permanent dwelling place under the guidance of fire: this rite was known as sending fire (Okuribi). Fire, which marked the commencement and closing of the festival.
Jesa is a ceremony commonly practiced in Korea. Jesa are usually held on the anniversary of the ancestor’s death. Gijesa is a memorial service which is held on the day of the ancestor’s death every year. Gijesa is performed until upwards of five generations of ancestors in the eldest descendant’s house. Memorial services that are performed on Chuseok or New Year’s Day are called “charye,” On April 5th and before Chuseok, Koreans visit the tombs of their ancestors and trim the grass off the tombs. Then, they offer food, fruits, and wine, and finally make bows in front of the tombs. Memorial services that are performed in front of tombs are called “seongmyo”
Ancestral rites are typically divided into three categories:
1: Charye tea rites for the ancestors, held on major holidays
2: Gije household rites held the night before, or morning of an ancestor’s death anniversary.
3: Sije is a seasonal rite held for ancestors who are five or more generations removed.
Pitru Paksha is a 16–lunar day period when Hindus pay homage to their ancestors (Pitrs), especially through food offerings. In southern and western India, it falls in the Hindu lunar month of Bhadrapada (September–October), beginning with the full moon day (Purnima) that occurs immediately after the Ganesh festival and depending on tradition ends on the following New or Full moon. It is believed that the ancestors are permitted passage by the Yama to return to earth and visit their relatives. Each day of the celebration requires specific devotional prayers, rituals and offerings. Throughout the fortnight food must be offered not just to the ancestors, but to the homeless and animals in need. If the ancestral offerings are accepted by the crows, it is a sign that the ancestors have visited and accepted your offerings, leaving blessings in return.
This year it commences on FM September 16th, and continues through to either day after NM on October 1st or for a full lunar cycle.
Bun Luang & Phi Ta Khon Festival This ceremony is known as faun phii (literally meaning Spirit Dance) and the Trance dances usually occur as a result of a vow or contract (kae bon) made between a cult group member and their ancestral spirits (phii puu yaa). The dances attract large numbers of spectators from clan members and local villagers. The first day of the ceremony is called Day of Preparation (wan daa). On this day, the preparation of offerings and the construction of the special trance dance pavilion (param) takes place.
July 6-8, 2016, Anticipated for late June in 2017
Samhain is a Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year. It is celebrated from sunset October 31st – sunset November 1st.It was the time when cattle were brought back down from the summer pastures and when livestock were slaughtered for the winter. In much of the Gaelic world, bonfires were lit and there were rituals involving them, as at Beltane. Samhain (like Beltane) was seen as a time when the doorways to the Otherworld opened enough for the souls of the dead, and other beings, to come into our world. Feasts were had, at which the souls of dead kin were beckoned to attend and a place set at the table for them.
Allantide is a Cornish festival that was traditionally celebrated on 31st October and known elsewhere as Hallowe’en. The festival itself seems to have pre-Christian origins similar to most celebrations on this date, however in Cornwall it was popularly linked to St Allen or Arlan a little-known Cornish Saint. Because of this Allantide is also known as Allan day. The origins of the name Allantide are actually likely to stem from the same old English sources as Hollantide (Wales and the Isle of Man) and Hallowe’en itself.
Day of the Dead ( Día de Muertos)- it’s a big holiday throughout Mexico when friends and families gather together to remember their ancestors. It is celebrated between 31 Oct and 3 Nov.