THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE CELTS & HINDUS
Divali, Pitri Paksh, Samhain & Halloween
As someone who has Celtic ancestry, I have noticed many commonalities between the Vedic Civilization and the Celtic Civilization. All these celebrations of both civilizations at this time of year have many aspects in common.
The Celts, like the Hindus, had a vast civilization. It stretched from Ireland to Spain, to Turkey and across the Alps into the Po Valley in Italy. Today the Celts are the Irish, Scots, Manx, Welsh, Cornish and English. The Hindu Civilization encompassed modern India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kashmir, Nepal, Bhutan and many of the modern day surrounding countries.
Both civilizations had an intellectual class. The Hindus had the Brahmins/priests/pandits. The Celts had the Druid priestly class. Like the Hindus the Druids' intellectual class included judges, lawyers, doctors, historians and diplomats. Both had law systems carried out by the intellectual class. The Hindus had Manu's Law and Vedic scriptures. The Celts had an Irish law system called the Laws of the Fenechus which were similar to Manu's Law.
The Irish also had a group of poets who were charioteers to the warrior class who extolled the virtues of the warriors. In the Gita Krishna was the charioteer to Arjuna. Sanjay was the king's charioteer who described the battle, the philosophy and poetry which Krishna shared with Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra.
The Celts had an astrological system similar to the Hindus, which included 27 lunar mansions. These mansions are called nakshatras in Vedic Sanskrit. The ancient Irish also called the planet Mercury "Budh" as did the Vedic Hindus. The Celts had the lunar calendar, the four directions, herbal medicine and respect for ecology like the Hindus.
The Celts also honored the goddesses, or Divine Feminine aspect, like the Hindus. Even though the Irish accepted Christianity later on, they still incorporated their pagan beliefs, such as believing in nature spirits and fairies with Christianity. Hindus believe nature has spiritual elements and beings which work with all creation similar to the Celtic belief system. The devas do similar nature tasks like the nature spirits.
The Hindus and Celts, like the Native Americans, had originally an oral tradition where beliefs, ideas, practices, rituals and stories where passed on to the younger generation via the elders and intellectual class.
The Celts were intuitively gifted and also excelled as musicians and singers much like the Hindus. Both groups did not deny the creative and intuitive side of humanity. They had their prophets, sages and visionaries who could help people make future plans. Both groups had many individuals who had visionary, psychic and spiritual experiences.
The Scots had a language called Sanscrit or Gael-dot or learned Gael. Welsh resembles Vedic Sanskrit more than any other European language.
Both traditions had sacred pillars, stones and monoliths on top of hills. Both honored the equinoxes and full moons. Stonehenge is based on the concept of alignment of the sun with the equinoxes.
As a child I celebrated Halloween, not realizing that Druids celebrated Samhain, the original festival. Samhain is a harvest festival but also it honors the ancestors. The Celts had many similar practices during Samhain which are found in the two Hindu celebrations, Divali and Pitri Paksh.
Divali is the Hindu festival of light in October or November. It is about the triumph of good over evil and the triumph of truth over ignorance. Charity is encouraged during Divali as a sign of love to humanity. I encourage this great and wonderful practice of charity. Many worthy non-profits help low income people and many of them need money right now because people are giving less because of the economy. This year I am donating some money to the Heifer International Project which provides sustainable livestock, female education, fruit trees and bio-gas stoves worldwide. Low income people are empowered to develop a sustainable living and overcome their poverty. To find out more go to www.heifer.org. This is just one example of what an individual could do for Divali. Talk to your local priest for local projects for Divali.
Pitri Paksh honors the ancestors like Samhain does. During Samhain and Pitri Paksh offerings are made to honor the ancestors. The veil between the worlds is thin during Samhain and Pitri Paksh. Samhain and Halloween are celebrated on October 31st and Pitri Paksh is celebrated in September or October in the Vedic month of Ashvin.
In Samhain celebrations the left over harvest is left in the fields as an offering to the nature spirits. To fool the nature spirits people wear white (such as sheets), dress as the opposite gender and pull pranks. This is the where the practices of Halloween came from, such as people wearing costumes, dressing as ghosts in sheets and pulling pranks. Samhain has bonfires using light (fire) to encourage healthy livestock herds. Bones were thrown into the fire to ensure prosperity the next year. Samhain is the Druids' New Year. In Divali the goddess Lakshmee is honored as the goddess of health, wealth and prosperity. By sharing your wealth with others, you ensure your own spiritual and material prosperity. We are less prosperous sometimes. So then we receive wealth from others during this time. When we are more prosperous, we give back to those who are less fortunate. Deeyas are lit and used to bring light to the world.
Have a great time celebrating all these great festivals. Be a generous giver and the Divine Mother will bless you many times over.
JAI SHRI DIVALI! JAI SHRI SAMHAIN! JAI SHRI MA!