Today is the end of the first half of the year… how time flies! We have a ritual in my homeland that is held on this day to cleanse ourselves of all impurities we have accumulated over the first half of the year, so we can start the second half afresh with clean souls.
We call the ritual the “purification to get through summer” (let me refer to it as the summer purification for convenience, as we have another one at the end of the year). It is held at just about any shrine around us, so I went to this one:
Priests pray to our Gods to cleanse us of impurities and wish for us to get through summer safe and healthy. During the prayers, we cleanse ourselves with these purifying confetti and hemp (a plant believed to keep away evil):
First splash over the left shoulder, then over the right shoulder, and left once more
Once the ritual is complete, we walk through the ring in the middle made of giant miscanthus (a plant believed to fend off impurities)…
… in a very specific order:
We also write our name on these paper dolls…
… and rub off and blow on our impurities to them, so that when they are floated down rivers tonight they will be literally washed away on our behalf.
Before we leave the shrine, we are served holy water (alcohol) by maidens to drink up, so we can be cleansed from within.
And if we choose, we can go to a traditional sweets shop nearby and bring home one of these yummy treats:
“June” (sweet rice jelly topped with sweet red beans, believed to protect us from misfortune)
Do you feel purified, now that you have vicariously experienced the ritual here?
Do you feel that you can start afresh tomorrow, now that you have ended today on a clean note?
Maybe today is just another day passing by.
Maybe today is no different than the day before or after.
But maybe it is a good thing to make today a little bit different.
Maybe to bring closure to things that are not going well so others can be started on a clean slate.
Or maybe pause for a moment when things are going well so points of improvement can be found and implemented when resuming.
Maybe today we can rid ourselves of all impure thoughts and fill our heads only with wishes for the well-being of one another.
From the bottom of my cleansed soul, my purified thoughts and prayers are with you, Istanbul.
I hope suffering from man-made disasters will end, so that sharing of heart-felt happiness can start.