With Halloween just over, now it’s time for us to celebrate All Saints Day and All Souls Day. Everyone knows how to celebrate Halloween – with scary costumes, candy, horror movies and fright night parties, right? Well, that isn’t wrong but it isn’t the entire story either.
The Origins of All Souls Day
All Souls Day is almost always overshadowed by Halloween and All Saints Day which is celebrated on the 1st of November. It is a solemn celebration in the Roman Catholic and Anglo-Catholic churches to commemorate the faithful departed. They remember and pray for the souls of people who are in Purgatory – the place (or state) in which those who have died to atone for their less grave sins before being granted the vision of God in Heaven (called Beatific vision).
Celebrated on the 2nd of November every year, it is an important day for people of the Catholic faith. It is a Roman Catholic day of remembrance for friends and loved ones who have left for their heavenly abode. All Soul’s Day has its roots in the ancient Pagan Festival of the Dead, based on the pagan belief that the souls of the dead would return for a meal with the family. Candles kept in the window guide the souls back home and another place was set at the table.
Catholics believe that those who die are not immediately eligible for the Beatific vision (the reality and goodness of God and heaven) and need to be purged of their sins. The Catholic Church calls this purification of the elect “purgatory.” The Catholic church maintains that
(a) there will be a purification of the believers prior to entering heaven and,
(b) the prayers and masses of the faithful benefit those in the state of purification.
The Feast of All Souls owes its beginning to seventh-century monks who decided to offer the mass on the day after Pentecost for their deceased community members. However, the choice of the date (Nov 2) for All Soul’s Day is attributed to St. Odilo, the fifth abbot of Cluny (city of France famous for the Abbey), because he wanted to follow the example of Cluny in offering special prayers and singing the Office of the Dead on the day following the feast of All Saints.
All Souls Day in Goa
On All Soul’s Day, the friends and relatives of the departed souls pray and offer requiem masses. There are three Requiem Masses that are said by the clergy to assist the souls from Purgatory to Heaven: one for the celebrant, one for the departed, and one for the pope.
In addition, people go to cemeteries all over the State where beloved family members are buried and decorate each grave with bouquets and bundles of flowers, little tea lights, tiny diya lamps, and candles. It is truly a sight to behold and extremely beautiful to see. in fact, passersby stop to watch and look at the cemeteries suddenly awash in a field of golden light and shimmering loveliness. It really is hard to take one’s eyes away from such a vision. Of course, everyone needs to remember to celebrate responsibly and not use non-biodegradable items to decorate graves.
In Panjim, you can see all this at the St. Inez cemetery on the evening of 1st November and well into the night.
While the Feast of All Saints is a day to remember the glories of Heaven and those there, the Feast of All Souls reminds us of our obligations to live lives on the holy path and that there will be purification of the souls of those destined for Heaven.
Source – The Holiday Spot