Friday, 1 April 2011

The Moon Across Cultures

Photo Courtesy : Sohini Basak
The moon – a hole in the sky, made of cheese, a marble palace. Stories of the moon have been circulating for a long time and every culture has one.

Indian mythology states that Chandra, the moon God married the 27 daughters of Daksha. He neglected all his wives except for the beautiful Rohini. Daksha, in his anger, cursed Chandra with a degenerative disease that caused him to wane. Later, the curse was made temporary so that Chandra wanes when he approaches Rohini and waxes as he moves away from her.
 The aborigines in Australia believe that the moon is the reflection of the campfire of the hunter Japara who is on an eternal hunt for souls of his wife and child.
China believes in the woman on the moon. Chang’e and her husband were immortal beings who were sent to earth as a punishment for their misdeeds. Chang’e tired of earth quickly and her husband decided to find a way to make them immortal again. He received a pill and was instructed not to eat more than half. Chang’e in her greed ate the entire pill and floated up to the moon where she resides even now.
Africans have linked up death to the moon. The story goes that the moon sent an insect to the earth with the message of eternal life. The insect was waylaid by a hare who offered to take the message to earth because he was faster than the insect.  The insect agreed and the hare ran off. In his hurry he confused the message and gave the earth news of death instead of eternal life. A follow up to this story is that the moon was so angry with the hare that she hit him on his nose. From that day on, hares have had split noses.
Greek mythology speaks of twin gods- the sun and the moon, Apollo and Artemis/Diana. Apollo drives his flaming chariot in the day and in the night, his sister Artemis rides her flaming chariot and shoots moonbeams at the earth.
In America, the belief is that chickens hatch more eggs when there is a full moon. If a woman bakes a cake on a full moon night, she should be careful of who she invites to eat it. The first unmarried man to eat the cake will become her husband.
There are certain mythological creatures associated with the moon- the werewolf for example, the half man half wolf is said to come out on full moon nights and witches are also supposed to find the time of a full moon best for brewing potions.
My personal favorite is the idea of the moon being made of cheese!
-Kavita Joseph

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