Here I am sharing the contents of an email received a little while ago.
When Pastor Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard:
"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good", but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and values.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare..

We have killed our unborn and called it choice.
We have shot anti-abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem.
We have terrorised the world and called the victims terrorists.
We have abused power and called it politics.
We have coveted our neighbour's possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.
We have ridiculed the time-honoured values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.
Blunt in content but very true...
Expressing gratitude, praying for peace of the departed souls is a social courtesy. Making it an annual feature is a ritual. The pertinent questions that can be raised are-

Do we really have to make it an annual ritual?  If so why?

What if it is not observed at all?

Who believes in all this?

There can be as many more question. These are the few that came to my mind and I needed an answer to it. Having traveled to different places and observed many cultures of the world I am sharing some of my observations.


From across the world


15th of August, 2013 the people of Japan celebrated the OBON festival to honour their ancestors. In Japan people visit their family homes to celebrate this day. According to the 500-year-old tradition, for three days it is the time to visit and clean their ancestors’ graves. It is also the time for the spirits of their departed loved ones to visit household altars. To ensure a welcome return, lanterns, candles and, for good measure, dance, are all organised. Offerings of flowers are made, alongside fruits and vegetables to sate the appetites of the spirit guests – as well as spirit animals made of eggplants and cucumbers for the spirits to ride.


According to the Korean tradition the 15th day of the eighth lunar month is called Ch'usok,. It is also known as the Harvest Moon Festival.  Ch'usok is a time to give thanks for the autumn harvest and reaffirm familial and community ties.

In Korea the day begins with the rites honoring their ancestors. Families visit the graves of their ancestors to bow and clean the area for the coming winter. Offerings are made of rice cakes made with the newly harvested rice, and just-picked fruits and nuts such as persimmons, chestnuts, and Chinese dates in the memorial services for ancestors. 

New Zealand

In New Zealand it comes into view low on the north-eastern horizon, appearing in the tail of the Milky Way in the last days of May or in early June, just before dawn. This heralds the Māori New Year.

These festivities are linked to appeasement of ancestors souls.  


In Singapore, Ghost Festival is a time for ancestor worship. Respect is paid to all departed souls irrespective of their being from the younger generations, same generations or older generations. During this ghost and spirits of the deceased from their realm visit the living descendants.

According their cultural beliefs on the fifteenth day of the 7th Chinese month the doors of Heaven and Hell are opened permitting all the souls and spirits to receive food and drink. This year it was August 20, 2013.

Both Taoists and Buddhists perform rituals to transmute and absolve the sufferings of the deceased. The day begins with ritual worship, offering food (to monks as well as deceased), burning joss paper, chanting of scriptures. Activities during the month would include preparing ritualistic food offerings, burning incense and burning joss paper, a papier-mâché form of material items such as clothes, gold and other fine goods for the visiting spirits of the ancestors. Elaborate meals (often vegetarian meals) would be served with empty seats for each of the deceased in the family treating the deceased as if they are still living. Other festivities may include, buying and releasing miniature paper boats and lanterns on water, which signifies giving directions to the lost ghosts and spirits of the ancestors and other deities.


The 15th day of seventh month of Hindu Lunar calendar called Aswin marks beginning of a fifteen days period assigned to the worship of departed souls. The rituals are in many ways different from those performed in other South Asian countries. Despite of the fact that this is a fifteen days period each family perform rituals according to day of death of the departed family member or Ancestor. The waning and waxing cycle of moon is of 15 days only. So this Pitr Paksh period begins with Full moon of Aswin month and ends on the fifteenth day. The New moon marks beginning of the next month. However similarity prevails in the way the rituals are conducted.

This is solemn period. People are supposed to abstain from drinks and non- veg food. The day (called tithi) on which offering are to be made to the departed soul begins with a small worship perform by a family member followed by offerings of food, fruits, clothes and donation to a Brahmin who conducts the ritual. Blessing of departed soul are sought on this day for protection and well being of the living descendants. No new activities or celebrations are organized during this period.

Halloween day

On October 31 each year it is time for Halloween Day. Ancient people believed that ghosts came back to earth on this day.  So to appease these spirits, people offer fruits and nuts.

Halloween costumes are traditionally related to ghosts, skeletons, witches, and devils. Black and Orange are the famous color for this day. The Jack-o-lantern is the festival light for Halloween. Pumpkin is a good substitute of the turnip, to be used as Jack-o-lantern. People generally give candy to the children who come to their house.

All saints day

November 1st is marked as the All Saints Day Filipinos traditionally observe this day by visiting the family dead, often cleaning and repairing them. Offerings of prayers, flowers, candles, and even food are made, while Filipino-Chinese additionally burn incense and kim. Many also spend the day and ensuing night holding reunions at the graves, playing music or singing karaoke.

In Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Chile, France, Hungary, Italy, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malta, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Spain, and American cities such as New Orleans, people take flowers to the graves of dead relatives. In Portugal, people also light candles at the graves as per their local tradition.

In Austria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Catholic parts of Germany, Hungary, Italy, Lithuania, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden, the tradition is to light candles and visit the graves of deceased relatives.

In English-speaking countries, the festival is traditionally celebrated with the hymn "For All the Saints". The most familiar tune for this hymn is Sine Nomine by Ralph Vaughan Williams. Another hymn that is popularly sung during corporate worship on this day is "I Sing a Song of the Saints of God".

All souls day

All Souls Day fall on the 2nd November every year it is preceded by All Saints Day and is marked for paying respect to all departed souls. 

If we look at the pattern there is a conceptual similarity across cultures, religions and nations.

  1. There is a period marked for honouring the departed souls.
  2. Blessings are sought.
  3. Offerings are made.
  4. It is a time for all family members to come closer (in solemnity or for celebrations is not important).
  5. Timing is a significant factor and variations are only due to local factor including weather conditions.

This brings to mind another issue “Does all this have any correlation with planetary transit ?
There are different calendar systems followed in different regions so that also possibly accounts for the variation in time.

But the underlying message that comes across is that this is time when the power sun begins to wane in northern hemisphere. In astrology sun is headed towards debilitation in the sign of Libra and this is the time to become more spiritually active to overcome negativity which tends to dominate. Rituals were evolved by the ancient saints keeping in mind more scientific reasons. As the scientific discoveries progressed and those practicing religion or with scientific mind choose to dismiss the practices instead of pragmatically collaborating with each other.

Result is chaos and suffering.  According to the World Health Organization estimates about 121 million people worldwide have some form of depression, where as less than 25 percent have access to effective treatment. [source: WHO].

In eastern philosophy (Vedic culture) the year is divided into six seasons and activities including Festivities, prayers, exercise and food intake is guided to be in harmony with nature. If some changes or distortions have taken place with the passage of time it is of paramount importance that the ancient knowledge is studied in correct perspective and shared, instead of rejecting it out rightly.

There was an Indian Chief who had four sons. He wanted his sons to learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them each on a quest, in turn, to go and look at a pear tree that was a great distance away.

The first son went in the Winter, the second in the Spring, the third in Summer, and the youngest son in the Fall. When they had all gone and come back, he called them together to describe what they had seen. The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted.

The second son said no, it was covered with green buds and full of promise.

The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was the most graceful thing he had ever seen.

The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

The Chief then explained to his sons that they were all right, because they had each seen but only one season in the tree's life.

He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person, by only one season, And that the essence of who they are and the pleasure, joy, and love that come from that life can only be measured at the end, when all the seasons are up.

If you give up when it's Winter, you will miss the promise of Spring, the beauty of Summer, and the fulfillment of Fall.

Don't let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest.

Don't judge life by one difficult season.

Persevere through the difficult patches and better times are sure to come some time.

This story was received on email and I am sharing it here for the benefit of all those who have not read it so far...

Good morning said a woman as she walked up to the man sitting on ground.
The man slowly looked up.

This was a woman clearly accustomed to the finer things of life. Her coat was new.. She looked like she had never missed a meal in her life. His first thought was that she wanted to make fun of him, like so many others had done before.. "Leave me alone," he growled....

To his amazement, the woman continued standing.

She was smiling -- her even white teeth displayed in dazzling rows.

"Are you hungry?" she asked.

"No," he answered sarcastically. "I've just come from dining with the president. Now go away."  The woman's smile became even broader. Suddenly the man felt a gentle hand under his arm.

"What are you doing, lady?" the man asked angrily. "I said to leave me alone.

Just then a policeman came up. "Is there any problem, ma'am?" he asked…

"No problem here, officer," the woman answered. "I'm just trying to get this man to his feet. Will you help me?"

The officer scratched his head. "That's old Jack. He's been a fixture around here for a couple of years. What do you want with him?"

"See that cafeteria over there?" she asked. "I'm going to get him something to eat and get him out of the cold for awhile."

"Are you crazy, lady?" the homeless man resisted. "I don't want to go in there!" Then he felt strong hands grab his other arm and lift him up. "Let me go, officer. I didn't do anything."

"This is a good deal for you, Jack" the officer answered. "Don't blow it.."

Finally, and with some difficulty, the woman and the police officer got Jack into the cafeteria and sat him at a table in a remote corner. It was the middle of the morning, so most of the breakfast crowd had already left and the lunch bunch had not yet arrived...

The manager strode across the cafeteria and stood by his table. "What's going on here, officer?" he asked. "What is all this, is this man in trouble?"

"This lady brought this man in here to be fed," the policeman answered.

"Not in here!" the manager replied angrily. "Having a person like that here is bad for business..."
Old Jack smiled a toothless grin. "See, lady. I told you so. Now if you'll let me go. I didn't want to come here in the first place."

The woman turned to the cafeteria manager and smiled....... "Sir, are you familiar with Eddy and Associates, the banking firm down the street?"

"Of course I am," the manager answered impatiently. "They hold their weekly meetings in one of my banquet rooms."

"And do you make a godly amount of money providing food at these weekly meetings?"

"What business is that of yours?"

I, sir, am Penelope Eddy, president and CEO of the company."

The woman smiled again. "I thought that might make a difference." She glanced at the cop who was busy stifling a giggle. "Would you like to join us in a cup of coffee and a meal, officer?"

"No thanks, ma'am," the officer replied. "I'm on duty."

"Then, perhaps, a cup of coffee to go?"

"Yes, maam. That would be very nice."

The cafeteria manager turned on his heel, "I'll get your coffee for you right away, officer."

The officer watched him walk away. "You certainly put him in his place," he said.

"That was not my intent. Believe it or not, I have a reason for all this."

She sat down at the table across from her amazed dinner guest. She stared at him intently…"Jack, do you remember me?"

Old Jack searched her face with his old, rheumy eyes. "I think so -- I mean you do look familiar."

"I'm a little older perhaps," she said. "Maybe I've even filled out more than in my younger days when you worked here, and I came through that very door, cold and hungry."

"Ma'am?" the officer said questioningly. He couldn't believe that such a magnificently turned out woman could ever have been hungry.

"I was just out of college," the woman began. "I had come to the city looking for a job, but I couldn't find anything. Finally I was down to my last few cents and had been kicked out of my apartment. I walked the streets for days. It was February and I was cold and nearly starving. I saw this place and walked in on the off chance that I could get something to eat."

Jack lit up with a smile. "Now I remember," he said.. "I was behind the serving counter. You came up and asked me if you could work for something to eat. I said that it was against company policy."

"I know," the woman continued. "Then you made me the biggest roast beef sandwich that I had ever seen, gave me a cup of coffee, and told me to go over to a corner table and enjoy it. I was afraid that you would get into trouble... Then, when I looked over and saw you put the price of my food in the cash register, I knew then that everything would be all right."

"So you started your own business?" Old Jack said.

"I got a job that very afternoon. I worked my way up. Eventually I started my own business that, with the help of God, prospered." She opened her purse and pulled out a business card.. "When you are finished here, I want you to pay a visit to a Mr. Lyons...He's the personnel director of my company. I'll go talk to him now and I'm certain he'll find something for you to do around the office." She smiled. "I think he might even find the funds to give you a little advance so that you can buy some clothes and get a place to live until you get on your feet... If you ever need anything, my door is always opened to you."

There were tears in the old man's eyes. "How can I ever thank you?" he said.

"Don't thank me," the woman answered. "To God goes the glory. Thank Jesus...... He led me to you."

Outside the cafeteria, the officer and the woman paused at the entrance before going their separate ways....

"Thank you for all your help, officer," she said.

"On the contrary, Ms. Eddy," he answered. "Thank you. I saw a miracle today, something that I will never forget. And.. And thank you for the coffee."

God is going to shift things around for you today and let things work in your favour. God closes doors no man can open & God opens doors no man can close…

If you need God to open some doors for you... have faith in HIM.

Have a blessed day and remember to be a blessing...

One young academically excellent person went to apply for a managerial position in a big company.

He passed the first interview, the director did the last  interview, made the last decision....

The director discovered from  the CV that the youth's academic achievements were  excellent all the way, from the secondary school until the postgraduate research. Never had a year when he did not score.

The director asked, "Did you obtain any  scholarships in school?"

The youth answered "none".

The director asked, " Was it your father who paid for your school fees?"

The youth answered, "My father passed away when I was one year old, it was my mother who paid for my school fees.

The director asked, " Where did your mother work?"

 The youth answered, "My mother worked as clothes  cleaner.

The director requested the youth to show his hands.

The youth showed a pair of hands that were smooth and perfect.

The director asked, "Have you ever helped your mother wash the clothes before?"

The youth answered, "Never, my mother always wanted me to study and read more books.

Furthermore, my mother can wash clothes faster than me.

The director said, "I have a request. When you go back today, go and clean your mother's hands, and then see me tomorrow morning.*

The youth felt that his chance of landing the job was high. When he went back, he happily requested his mother to let him clean her hands. His mother felt strange, happy but with mixed feelings, she showed

her hands to the kid.

The youth cleaned his mother's hands slowly. His tear fell as he did that. It was the first time he noticed that his mother's hands were so wrinkled, and there were so many bruises in her hands. Some bruises were so painful that his mother shivered when they were cleaned with water.

This was the first time the youth realized that it was this pair of hands that washed the clothes everyday to enable him to pay the school fee. The bruises in the mother's hands were the price that the mother had to pay for his graduation, academic excellence and his future.

After finishing the cleaning of his mother's hands, the youth quietly washed all the remaining clothes for his mother.

That night, mother and son talked for a very long time.

Next morning, the youth went to the director's office.

The Director noticed the tears in the youth's eyes, asked: " Can you tell me what have you done and learned yesterday in your house?"

The youth answered, " I cleaned my mother's hand, and also finished cleaning all the remaining clothes'

The Director asked, " please tell me your feelings."

The youth said,

Number 1

I know now what is appreciation. Without my mother, there would not the successful me today.


Number 2

By working together and helping my mother, only I now realize how difficult and tough it is to get something done.

Number 3

I have come to appreciate the importance and value of family relationship.

The director said, " This is what I am looking for to be my manager. I want to recruit a person who can appreciate the help of others, a person who knows the sufferings of others to get things done, and a person who would not put money as his only goal in life. You are hired.

Later on, this young person worked very hard, and received the respect of his subordinates. Every employee worked diligently and as a team. The company's performance improved tremendously.

A child, who has been protected and habitually given whatever he wanted, would develop "entitlement mentality" and would always put himself first. He would be ignorant of his parent's efforts.

When he starts work, he assumes that every person must listen to him, and when he becomes a manager, he would never know the sufferings of his employees and would always blame others.

For this kind of people, who may be good academically, may be successful for a while, but eventually would not feel sense of achievement.

He will grumble and be full of hatred and fight for more. If we are this kind of protective parents, are we really showing love or are we destroying the kid instead?*

You can let your kid live in a big house, give him a Driver & Car for going around, Eat a Good Meal, learn Piano, Watch a Big Screen TV. But when you are Cutting Grass, please let them experience it. After a Meal, let them Wash their Plates and Bowls together with their Brothers and Sisters. Tell them to Travel in Public Bus, It is not because you do not have Money for Car or to Hire a Maid, but it is because you want to Love them in a right way. You want them to understand, no matter how rich their parents are, one day their hair will Grow Grey, same as the Mother of that young person. The most important thing is your kid learns how to appreciate the effort and experience the difficulty and learns the ability to work with others to get things done…