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Festival Calendar

October 2007

Find myth- and Mythic Journeys-related events on our
Annual Calendar

Various dates in October — Zeqwala
Oromo tribes of Ethiopia
Twice a year (October & March) Ethiopians make a pilgrimage around a beautiful volcanic crater lake at the top of Mount Zeqwala. Two separate pilgrimages occur simultaneously on different sides of the lake. The Amhara predominantly gather on the northern side of the lake near the Christian church, while adherents of the traditional Oromo religion attend a ceremony by a large stone called a sida located in the forest to the south-east of the lake. The site is sacred to both ethnic groups. Even during the most violent inter-ethnic wars, harmony exists between them on the venerated mountain.

The Oromo ceremony takes place overnight and involves a ritual called delega. As the Oromo pilgrims enter the clearing, they pick a bunch of grass and place it on the large stone. Incense is burnt, offerings of butter are smeared on the stone, and coffee is poured over it after each boiling. Many separate groups form, dancing their own dances, and singing their own songs around separate fires. During the course of the night, the intensity of the ritual increases culminating in Zar or spirit possession ceremonies presided over by a ritual leader. Women who have suffered infertility are often possessed. One or two at a time, they enter the middle of a circle. As the drum beat slowly gains momentum, they begin to vigorously circle their heads and shoulders, entering a trance state. The dance of possession results in convulsions until they finally collapse. Climax around one campfire then moves to another and another, continuing into the early hours of the morning. The celebrations die down briefly only to resume again at dawn.

October 4 — Feast of St. Francis of Assisi
Founder of the Franciscan order, St. Francis lived in Italy during the late 12th and early 13th century. He ministered to lepers, was generous to the poor, and loved animals and nature. After a mystical experience in which a statue of Christ on the cross is said to have asked Francis to repair his crumbling church, he and his followers restored several ruined churches. In 1209 Francis led his eleven followers to Rome to ask Pope Innocent III's permission to found a new religious order. His first request to speak with the Pope was refused. The following night, Innocent dreamed that the church was crumbling apart and saw a poor man attempting to hold it up. The next morning, recalling his refusal of Francis the day before, the Pope recognized him as the man from his dream, and granted an interview that founded the Franciscan order. Francis chose never to be ordained a priest, and the community lived as fratres minores (lesser brothers).The brothers of his order wore rough-woven robes of brown and went barefooted, always joyous in their work.

Dandia Raas folk dance performed on Navratri Garba

Nishihama Machi at the Kunchi Festival 2000October 7-9 — Kunchi Festival
Japan, Shinto
One of the three great festivals of Japan, the Kunchi Festival is celebrated at the Suwa Shinto Shrine in Nagasaki with a dragon dance, and competitive parades with ornately decorated floats. First celebration in 1634, it began as dedication to the deities of the Shinto shrine and featured Noh (Masked) Theatre events. After a devastating fire in 1857, the festival was reborn from the ashes, allowing neighborhoods to compete with each other in elaborate displays. Now this huge autumn festival draws thousands of people annually to witness the spectacle of the huge, unmechanized machi (parade). More images of the Kunchi Festival.

October 12 — Navaratri
(The Doll Festival of the nine nights begins)
India, Hindu
The festival begins with the Hindu month of Ashwin, and usually falls in October. As a tribute to the goddess Durga, the Divine Mother, a copper or silver bowl of rice covered in mango and coconut is placed at each house. Women and girls dress in their finest clothes and visit each other. The entertainment rooms are brightly decorated with colored paper and flowers. There is music, dancing and food. When the guests depart, the hostess gifts them with coconuts, cakes and betel nuts.

Navratri Kolu display of dollsIn a celebration called kolu, has been in existence for at least 500 years, dolls are arranged on 3/5/7/9 tiered steps. The dolls represent gods and goddesses, people and animals from India and around the world. They are from 6 inches to a foot high, bejeweled and adorned cotton sarees. The dolls are made especially for this occasion and the buying of the dolls starts long before the festival. At her wedding, the bride receives a doll from her parents. This doll, called Marapache Bommai, is the start of the bride's own collection of dolls. Marapachi are made from a special kind of wood which has medicinal value. Women prepare for Kolu and take out their treasured dolls from years past and give them a new life by mending repainting and clothing them afresh.

The kolu is practiced in India and in many other Asian countries, especially Sri Lanka and Japan. The Japanese version of Navaratri kolu is known as Hina Masturi.

October 17 — Durga Shashti Puja
India, Hindu

October 18 — Maha Saptami
India, Hindu

October 19 — Durga Ashtami Puja
India, Hindu

October 20 — Báb's Birthday
Followers in the faith of Baha'i believe that Mohammed was the last great prophet of the Age of Promise, and that Báb (Siyyid Alí Muhammad) was the first great prophet of the Age of Fulfillment, forerunner to the great prophet Baha'Allah. Bab was born on this date in 1819.

October 20 — Mahanavami Puja
(The festival of Navratri ends)
India, Hindu

October 21 — Vijaya Dashmi or Dussehra
India, Hindu

October 26 — Full Moon
The Britons called it the Harvest Moon. Native Americans refer to it as the Hunters Moon. It is also called the Travel Moon, the Dying Grass Moon, the Blood Moon, and in India it is celebrated as Kojagiri or Sharad Pornima