In ancient Rome, today is Parilia, sacred to the Goddess Pales and the birthday of Rome itself. Shepherds, followed by their flocks, would traditionally leap through bonfires. Also called Palilia. The day also honours the goddess Dea Roma. Roma was a female deity who personified the city of Rome and more broadly, the Roman state.
Today the ancient Greeks and modern day Hellenists celebrate the Feast of Artemis (Roman Diana/Slavic Diwitsa), who represents the feminine in Nature and protects women throughout their lives. Women recognize the transitions in their lives and honour female fertility or creativity.
Today in Egypt is the Feast of Wadjet (Udjet or Buto). Wadjet is called The Green One, and was the patron of Lower Egypt. When the two Egypts were unified, she became patron and protector of all Egypt. She is usually depicted with a sun disk called the Uraeus, and this symbol is the emblem on all the rulers’ crowns. Associated with the land, She is depicted as a snake-woman with a cobra head.
In Hinduism, today is Ganga Saptami, sacred to the Goddess Ganga, the mighty Ganges. This day is also known as Ganga Pujan and Ganga Jayanti as Ganga was reborn on this day. According to Hindu Mythology, Ganga descended to the Earth on Ganga Dussehra. When the mighty Ganga descended to the Earth, Lord Shiva took Her in His hairs to break Her descent to avoid Ganga sweeping the whole Earth away. Later Lord Shiva released Ganga so that she could accomplish Her mission to purge the cursed souls of Bhagiratha’s ancestors.
While on Her way to the kingdom of Bhagiratha, Her mighty flow and gushing turbulent water destroyed the Ashram of the sage Jahnu. This angered Sage Jahnu and he drank up all of Ganga’s water. Upon this, Bhagiratha and the Gods prayed to Rishi Jahnu to release Ganga so that she could proceed on her mission. Pleased with their prayers, Jahnu released Ganga from his ear. Because of this legend this day is also known as Jahnu Saptami. Ganga is also known as Jahnavi, the daughter of Rishi Jahnu.
On Ganga Saptami, devotees worship the Goddess Ganga and take baths in the Ganges. This action is considered highly auspicious.
Today is also Sri Ramanujacharya Jayanthi, the birthday of the philosopher Sri Ramanuja Acharya. Sri Ramanuja Acharya (1017-1137 C.E.) was a great Hindu philosopher and thinker. He is the most venerated Acharya in the philosophy of Sri Vaishnavism. He was born in 11th century in the village of Sriperumbudur, in Tamil Nadu in 1017 CE. Sri Ramanuja’s birth name was Lakshmana and he was also referred to as Ilaya Perumal, which means “the radiant one.” He disappeared at the age of 120 in Srirangam, Tamil Nadu, in 1137 CE. Ramanuja is also known as Ramanujacharya.
Negi-no-mai at Tenso Shrine, Ota-ku, Tokyo is a festival during which masked dancers perform sacred dances to the music of drums at Tenso Shrine to pray for a successful harvest.
Beginning today, the Baha’i celebrate the Festival of Ridvan, a twelve day festival commemorating the anniversary of the garden sojourn where Baha’u’llah declared his mission outside Baghdad before his banishment to Istanbul (then called Constantinople) in 1863.
Image: Pales, from a tarot card found on the internet.