This time of year can feel like a nourishing soup for the soul: As we celebrate the harvest season here in the Bay Area, the days of Diwali begin and then blend into Halloween with the Day of the Dead close behind.
We are celebrating the season at Adeline Yoga with an ofrenda for BKS Iyengar. An ofrenda is a collection of objects placed on a ritual altar during the Dia de los Muertos celebration. Day of the Dead – Día de Muertos – is a Mexican holiday observed throughout the world. It focuses on gatherings of family and friends to pray for and remember loved ones who have died. The celebration takes place on October 31, November 1 and November 2, in connection with the triduum of Allhallowtide: All Hallows’ Eve, Hallowmas, and All Souls’ Day. November 1st is often the day to remember deceased children, and November 2nd is for the adults.
The traditions of Día de Muertos are a mix of Catholic tradition and Indigenous rites. In Mexico, families go to the cemeteries for a picnic with their loved one. At home, the deceased is honored with private altars – ofrendas – that often include sugar skulls, marigolds, incense and the favorite foods and beverages of the departed.
We have built our ofrenda for BKS Iyengar, and incorporated both the traditional objects used for Día de Muertos and for Diwali. On our altar, you will find Diwali candles, props that BKS Iyengar loved to use, a skull cup of water to keep him hydrated, some nibbles for him to have with his chai, other spices used in Indian and Mexican cooking and plenty of marigolds that are beloved by Indians, Mexicans and Americans alike.
Diwali is an ancient Hindu festival one of the biggest festivals of the year. It is celebrated with great enthusiasm and happiness in India. The festival spiritually signifies the victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance, good over evil, and hope over despair. At home, families clean their homes thoroughly and decorate for “the New Year”. Diwali is a five-day festival, where the third days is celebrated as the ‘Festival of lights’ the light shows, fireworks and candles.
Hindus find similar importance in personal alters. Loved ones and learned sages are honored in these altars with some of the items used by in the ofrendas– bright flowers, sweets and plenty of light.
Whether or not these traditions are “ours” by birth, they affect us and certainly give us an opportunity for both introspection and celebration with others.
Its an interesting time of year – with this weather our souls celebrate the abundance of the harvest and, at the same time, the impending “little deaths” of the winter to come. Can our bodies ever forget the awful days of the Firestorm – and stop celebrating the success of our baseball teams? Probably not.
Because this year marks the passing of BKS Iyengar, whose teachings have been seminal in our physical and spiritual development, an ofrenda seems especially important. With this offering, we take time to honor our teacher, and reflect upon the season in its multitude of facets.
WE INVITE ALL STUDENTS TO PARTICIPATE. Additions to the ofrenda are encouraged. We will have the ofrenda up until Friday November 7th.