Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Orgiastic Origins of Vat Savitri and the Summer Solstice

In India, the New Moon in May is celebrated as a day of Vat Savitri or the rising Sun. Savitr is a solar deity of the Rigveda. He is sometimes identified and even distinguished with Surya, the Sun. Savitr disappeared as an independent deity of the Indian pantheon after the end of the Vedic period, but in modern Hinduism, its name appears in the well-known Gayatri mantra (taken from the third book of the Rigveda), which is also known as Savitri due to this deity.

Sun in its threefold aspect of a deity benefits, vivifies and nourishes. In his praise are invoked beautiful Vedic hymns, being the king of the dawn and the sunset. Easter was originally celebrated on the full moon in May. This suggests a religious syncretism between the mysterious religions, linked to the fertility and worship of the sun and moon (sometimes symbol of the mother goddess).

The word Easter seems to come from the goddess Ostara or Eostre, goddess of dawn or spring in Anglo-Saxon culture. This word seems to be cognate with the Babylonian divinity, Ishtar, worshiped as Venus and Usha, since being the star of dawn and/or sunset and is the consort of the god of light, the male god. This is important since all these deities embody the primordial principle of femininity, of the Mother Goddess and of her equivalent processes in nature, which transforms equally as mother and as a lover.

Agni, Indra, and Suria were more powerful than other deities. Therefore, they became a triad that was very popular and venerated in the Vedic Age. The characteristics and attributes of these three deities are very similar, although with different nuances.

While Suria was the Sun as a star, Agni was the god of fire and heat, and Indra is the god of the firmament, of storms and lightning, and sometimes has attributes similar to Varuna in some things. Savitri became a symbol of the inevitable cycle of love and loss, bringing a figurative level in every situation from the grave of conclusions to the womb of the beginning.

This festival is particularly celebrated in Maharashtra by married women as Vat Purnima, who pray for the health of their husbands and for the happiness of their family life. They also fast for three days, before returning to the nearest temple or banyan tree with a plateau loaded with offerings like rice, mango, and bananas. They sprinkle the banyan with sacred water and then listen to a priest tell them the story of Savitri.

After that, they go to the Banyan to pray and unroll a string while going around the tree, while placing red pigment and kumkum, on its bark, tying ribbons to its branches, and accomplishing the parikrama by turning seven times around the object of devotion.

In small temples, dozens of women, dressed in their finest saris, throng into it with their arms full of offerings. On Vat Purnima day, married women get up early and prepare themselves as perfect wives, with all their attributes of married women by wearing precious saris, mangal sutra, a kind of pendant women receive on their day of marriage and are supposed to keep all their life, glass bracelets, bindi between the eyes, flowers in the hair.

This festival was celebrated as Litha for the Germans, Alban Heruin for the Celts, which for many centuries was a festival of great importance to paganism and ancient people. Litha means fire and represents the heyday of the energy, the end of darkness, of sterility, and the beginning of the most fertile age, where everything is renewed. It is the abundance, the beauty of the earth and the power of the light.

It was a time to celebrate the end of the growing year and the beginning of the waning year, in preparation for the harvest to come. The celebration of this festival is as old as humanity itself. Traditionally it was a time of purification, where women used to jump on the bonfire or the cauldron to achieve a goal, protection, fertility, health or burned symbols of what one wanted to purify.

The ancient Greeks defined this event concerning the sun as a gateway to another dimension, the sun was diminishing day by day because it penetrated the dimension of the spirit of men, first sported on the outside and then looked on the inside.

Many other cultures have celebrated and continue to celebrate this cosmic phenomenon because the Sun is all a celebration, a principle of life, the continuity of existence and the first logo or divinity with which humanity identified.

In Celtic culture, the Druids celebrated the ritual of Alban Heruin, which consisted of lighting bonfires seeking the blessing for the lands and their fruits, as well as good omens for lovers and fertility for women. The magic of the Druids invoking the Elementals, that is to say, the spirits of the elements of nature, the Fire Salamanders, the Water Undines, the Air Sphinxes and Elves, and the earth gnomes are part of a tradition Which has left us many legends and much musical folklore.

In Mexico, the Aztec warriors dedicate many rituals to the solar cult so that the renewal of the fires, helps the earth and the human being to respect the cycles and to obtain good and abundant harvest, as well as health. The Incas of Peru celebrate the Inti-Raymi, the festival of the Sun. It is a spectacle to see in the esplanade of Sacsahuamán, very near Cuzco, the flames of the fires that invoke the star king before the sunrise.

As this solar event is related to purification, prosperity, abundance and fecundity, some popular traditions tell that at dawn on the first day of summer, the women of the villages went to collect from the springs the Celestial Flower Or Flower of Water and drank it, believing firmly that they would find the right pair, it would cure some evil, or they could conceive children. During this ritual, they used to sing specific songs dedicated to the dew.

The tradition of this millennial festival is still celebrated in many places on the planet and in all, the customs are very similar. They coincide in lighting purifying bonfires or worshiping the Sun. In some places, it is also complemented with baths at dawn, like a baptismal ritual. Enter the river or the sea to clear the emotions and then turn three times counterclockwise around the bonfire.

This act symbolizes the purification, to finish jumping over the embers intoning some mantra or prayer of transmutation. It is also common that in the cosmic bonfire burn old utensils, intentions written on paper and celebrate the night with songs and an offering to the earth. Another of the customs, which also gave the name to this night of verbena, was the practice practiced in some homes that the maidens of marriageable age, were to gather verbena that night at midnight, the desired love.

In addition, as this night is so magical and everything on Earth vibrates in that harmony, all the elements collected become very powerful, from there the gathering of herbs, which is given, because that night the Druids collected the mistletoe that grew on it. High Oaks, a very magical plant, which also grew in the oaks, trees that were highly prized by them, and was collected by a ritual, where they were cut with golden sickles, and collected with white linen sheets.

Although other deities now have more predominance, the cult of Suria still appears. Proof of this are the numerous temples dedicated to it such as the Dakshina Arka temple on the side of the Ganges which is now used for offerings to the ancestors, Surianaar Koyil in South India, Arasavilli and Konark on the east coast of India, where there is also Modhera in Gujarat, Suria Pahar in northeastern India and Unao in central India, are some of the examples.

And all of them have survived the passing of the years and the different beliefs of each era, adding special touches and autochthonous of each place, making in each temple, different rites or customs are established.

It is also worth mentioning that several temples dedicated to Shiva still have a small altar for Suria, some arranged in such a way that they illuminate the rays of the sun in some determined days, mainly in the region of Tamil Nadu. In the South, where the purity of the Vedas is best preserved there are still surviving names, such as Suria TĂ­rtham or Suria Pushkarini.

It should also be said that there are texts that relate that in the seventh century AD there were many devotees in Multan in Pakistan, where there is a temple dedicated to Suria, which still exists in ruins and another near Srinagar in Kashmir, specifically in the city of Martanda.

Solar temples were known in times past as Aditya Grihas. And approximately in the year 400 AD, a Greek adventurer named Ktesias mentions a place where he was to the west of India, where a solar cult was practiced, and where he mentioned some differences that existed between the Greek and Hindu solar worship. The cult of Suria that still is practiced. Mainly, his devotees believe that Suria is able to cure infertility.