|Sugar candy skulls (calaveras) characteristic of Day of the Dead celebrations (ALC)|
|Mara, the personification of death and defilements (Dia de los Muertos, Los Angeles 2007)|
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|Demon in Taoism (asiaobcura.com)|
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|Buddha, Likir Gompa (Fulvio/Ifphotos/flickr)|
"But if one abandons relishing them, welcoming them, or clinging to them, one is said to be freed from forms cognizable by the eye.
"One has avoided Mara's camp; one has avoided falling under Mara's influence.
"The 'Evil One' is helpless to do with one as he wills.
"The 'Evil One' is helpless to do with one as he wills."
Kilesas from Abhidharma and Path of Purification
|Yama: Lord of Death|
Prof. Ananda W.P. Guruge, The Buddha's Encounters with Mara the Tempter: Their Representation in Literature and Art (edited by Wisdom Quarterly)
|Mexico: skulls celebrating the festival Day of the Dead (diarioelamanecer.com)|
In the Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, G.P. Malalasekera explains: Mara in the commentarial literature becomes much more than a living individual:
- "Mention is made of five maras: Khandha-mara [Five Aggregates], Kilesa-mara [defilements], Abhisankhara-mara [karmic constructions], Maccu-mara [Death], and Devaputta-mara [a young deity]. Elsewhere Mara is spoken of as one, three, or four."
- "The term Mara, in the older books, is applied to the whole of worldly existence, the Five Aggregates, or the realm of rebirth, as opposed to nirvana."
- Commentaries speaking of three maras specify them as Devaputta-mara, Maccu-mara, and Kilesa-mara. When four maras are referred to, they appear to be the five maras mentioned in (i) above minus Devaputta Mara.
"Day of the Dead"
|Skull face (festivalearth.com)|
|Dia de Los Muertos skull sugar candy for the dead (paintersoflouisville.com)|
This is an ancient practice predating Spanish invasion and conquest, European hegemony, and Catholic domination. The practice, in fact, exists around the world.
Everywhere people remember those who have passed and attempt to help them along in the afterlife. This was the main focus of Egyptian religion and even prehistoric practices, judging by funereal evidence at archeological sites. Why else are the dearly departed dressed, prepared, and buried with valuable object of use only to living beings? Belief in rebirth is the norm -- even if one merely believes in one more life in only one of two planes as is promulgated by Christians.
Creatures, ghouls, goblins, poltergeists, banshees, phantoms, spectres, shadows, ghosts (petas) are all about under ordinary circumstances, their world not being so far off but just a frequency away. The worlds intermingle, laying atop one another, at differing vibrational rates. Mexico is not alone in celebrating and honoring "the ancestors" (los muertos, "the dead" central to the holiday).
Pagan or Catholic?
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Catholicism (and other forms of Christianity like Protestantism, Eastern Orthodox, etc.), with its replacement observances, often usurped ancient holidays and co-oped them to its own ends. Christianity was a Roman psychological operation, one of the most successful propaganda campaigns the world has ever seen. But not all people neglect the indigenous origins of the appropriated celebrations in spite of the imperial killers.
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A few troublesome or restless spirits are laid to rest and encouraged to move along according to their karma. Who are our "ancestors," our departed "relatives"? The Buddha said that they consist of those extended family members going back seven generations, quite a coincidence since Native American peoples believe the same thing.