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January Religious Holidays , Carmentalia & More

From celebrating a fertility god to observing an ancient tradition, many holidays have religious and cultural connections. In this article, you will learn about some observances that are celebrated in Rome, Bolivia, and throughout Buddhist communities.

Carmentalia

Every year, the ancient Romans celebrated Carmentalia, which paid homage to a nymph by the name of Carmenta (or Carmentis). The annual event is observed on two dates: January 11 and 15. Mostly women observed this day with two separate festivals held on the 11th and 15th. The cult of the nymph was believed to predate even the city of Rome. Carmentis is closely related to the care of infants.

Alasitas Fair

In January, the Bolivians in La Paz participate in a fair that lasts three weeks long. Starting on January 24th, everything sold is in miniature form. The festival was originally held in the month of September throughout the country during the springtime. This was a time for the farmers to pray for a healthy crop and abundant harvest. Alasitas is a festival that pays homage to Ekkekko, who is known as the indigenous “god of bounty” or “abundance”. Because of this, some will refer to the fair as the Festival of Abundance.

Lohri

Celebrated on the 13th day of January, Lohri is a celebration that marks the end of winter , taking place in the month of Paush or Magh. Punjabis see this festival as an example of a life tradition. Buddhists, Hindus, and Sikhs take the time to celebrate fertility and the seeds that give life. Children will go door to door to collect funds for the community bonfires on this day, which are lit in the evening. Common activities include people gathering around a bonfire, tossing treats in the air, throwing puffed rice and popcorn into the flames, greeting others, and singing popular songs.

The day is seen as lucky because the sun enters into the northern hemisphere for a period called Uttarayan, which lasts from January 14 to July 14. January 13th is also the last day of the month of Maargazhi, which is the ninth month of the lunar calendar. Participants concentrate on the bonfire with many people gathering to enjoy a traditional dinner. Prasad is given to people around the bonfire, which serves as a symbol of prayer to Agni (the spark of life) , in hopes that they will enjoy abundant crops and prosperity.

January 13th is also the one day where women and children get a lot of attention. Because of this, the first Lohri of a bride is highly significant. The day is also very important for a newborn baby boy or girl celebrating their first Lohri.