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If we compare this with the precepts of the "Manava-DharmaSastra-" The ceremony in honor of the manes is superior, the Brahmins, to the worship of the gods, and the offerings to the gods that take place before the offerings to the manes have been declared to increase their merits "-it will be easy to see that these teachings must have emanated from the same school.
This most ancient custom is likewise scrupulously followed by the Chinese, for whom the worship of the ancestors is as binding and sacred as that of God himself, whose representatives they have been for their children while on earth. Confucius in his book "Khoung-Tseu " dedicates a whole chapter to the description of the ceremony in honor of ancestors as practised twice a year, in spring and autumn, and in his book "Lun-yu" he instructs his disciples that "it is necessary to sacrifice to the ancestors as if they were present. The worship of the ancestors is paramount in the mind of the Japanese. On the fifteenth day of the seventh Japanese month a festival is held in honor of the ancestors, when a repast of fruit and vegetables is placed before the Ifays, or wooden tablets of peculiar shape, on which are written inscriptions commemorative of the dead.
Great festivities were held by the Peruvians in honor of the dead in the month of Aya-marca, a word which means literally "carrying the corpses in arms." These festivities were established to commemorate deceased friends and relations. They were celebrated with tears, mournful songs, plaintive music, and by visiting the tombs of the dear departed, whose provi1 Manava-Dharma-Sastra, lib. iii., Sloka 203, also Slokas 127, 149, 207, etc., et passim.
Confucius, Khoung-Tseu, Tchoung-Young, chap. xix.
Ibid., Lun-yu, chap. iii., Sloka 12.
sion of corn and chicha they renewed through openings arranged on purpose from the exterior of the tomb to vessels placed near the body.1
Even to-day the aborigines of Yucatan, Peten, and other countries in Central America where the Maya language is spoken, as if in obedience to this affirmation of the Hindoo legislator "The manes accept with pleasure that which is offered to them in the clearings of the forests, localities naturally pure; on river banks and in secluded places "2—are wont, at the beginning of November, to hang from the branches of certain trees in the clearings of the forests, at cross-roads, in isolated nooks, cakes made of the best corn and meat they can procure. These are for the souls of the departed to partake of, as their name hanal pixan (“the food of the souls ") clearly indicates.3
Does not this custom of honoring the dead exist among us to-day? The feast of "All Souls" is celebrated by the Catholic Church on the second day of November, when, as at the feast of the Feralia, observed on the third of the ides (February the eleventh) by the Romans, and so beautifully described by Ovid, people visit the cemeteries, carry presents, adorn
1 Christoval de Molina, The Fables and Rites of the Yncas.
by Clements R. Markham, pp. 36-50.
2 Manava-Dharma-Sastra, lib. iii., Sloka 203.
Cakes were likewise offered to the dead in Egypt, India, Peru, etc. 4 Est honor et tumulis; animas placare paternas,
Parvaque in extructas munera ferre pyras:
Parva petunt manes: pietas pro divite grata est
Ovid, Fast 1, V. 533, et passim.
Tombs also have their honor; our parents wish for
with flowers, wreaths, and garlands of evergreen the restingplace of those who have been dear to them-a very tender and impressive usage, speaking eloquently of the most affectionate human sentiments.
Mr. R. G. Haliburton, of Boston, Mass., in a very learned and most interesting paper 1 on the "Festival of Ancestors," or the feast of the dead, so prevalent among all nations of the earth, speaking of the singularity of its being observed everywhere at precisely the same epoch of the year, says: "It is now, as it was formerly, observed at or near the beginning of November by the Peruvians, the Hindoos, the Pacific islanders, the people of the Tonga Islands, the Australians, the ancient Persians, the ancient Egyptians, and the northern nations of Europe, and continued for three days among the Japanese, the Hindoos, the Australians, the ancient Romans, and the ancient Egyptians. This startling fact at once drew my attention to the question, How was this uniformity in the time of observance preserved, not only in far distant quarters of the globe, but also through that vast lapse of time since the Peruvian and the Indo-European first inherited this primeval festival from a common source?" What was that source?
When contemplating the altar at the entrance of Prince Coh's funeral chamber, we asked ourselves, Are we still in
That small present we owe to the ghosts;
Those powers do not look at what we give them, but how;
No greedy desires prompt the Stygian shades.
They only ask a tile crowned with garlands,
And fruit and salt to scatter on the ground.
The Romans believed, as did the Hindoos and the Mayas, that salt scattered on the ground was a strong safeguard against evil spirits.
R. G. Haliburton, "Festival of Ancestors," Ethnological Researches Bearing on the Year of the Pleiades.