The Human Cohesion Project — 7 March 2023
Celebrations abound this full moon across traditions! In what has perhaps already been a tough year for the world, only two months in, with a continuing war, devastating earthquakes, increasing nuclear threat, floods, etc. our faiths continue to bring us invitations to pause and reconnect with life, through connections with each other and ourselves.
The Native Americans call this the Worm moon as a nod to beetle larvae that begin to emerge from thawing barks of trees as the season changes. The northern hemisphere begins to welcome spring as the south readies for autumn, with this moon.
While the Christian tradition continues to observe Lent through this period, in the Hindu tradition, this is celebrated as Holi, the festival of colours. Many stories signify the symbolism of Holi, including one where a liminal God called Narasimha (depicted as a human with a lion’s head, sitting on a threshold at twilight) slays an evil king, while honouring a fervent prayer of the latter’s pious son. The story is symbolic of how when parts of our consciousness that are still child-like grow enough to be able to discern between just and unjust, the aspect of us that is connected to the larger life force is ready to cross the threshold to the next level of consciousness by objectively jettisoning parts of us that do not serve any longer.
The Shia, Sunni and Sufi Muslim communities celebrate this night as Shab-e-barat or Laylat al-Bara’at as a night of prayer for forgiveness for anything that may have led us, and our deceased ancestors, away from the path of justice. (A similar observance in Zoroastrianism, Frawardigan, follows only a few days later.)
In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this day is the butter lamp festival, Chötrul Düchen. Again, the tradition alludes to the opportunity to realign with the just path, as it is believed that the effects of both positive and negative actions are multiplied ten million times during the festival.
The Jewish festival of Purim reinforces the message of justice in the form of a carnival and feast to commemorate the saving of the Jewish people from annihilation at the hands of Haman, the royal vizier to Persian king Ahasuerus of the Achaemenid Empire. In the story recounted in the Book of Esther in the Old Testament, the young queen Esther gathers courage to cleverly thwart genocide of her people.
There must be something our ancestors sensed in the energy of this part of the year, that lent itself to our realignment with justice through the path of forgiveness, as the seasons turn. All of these festivals have a joyous flavour, even as they encourage us to forgive ourselves and each other and remind ourselves of our humanity. They remind us that justice need not be retributive, but transformational and life-giving. There is perhaps no time in our existence when this reminder is not relevant.
· What are you willing to forgive, in yourself, and in the world?
· How would you like to embody justice, going forward?
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