Dr Rajan philips — We are all set to usher in the New Year. It is an apt time to reflect on and take stock of ‘highs’ and ‘lows’ of the days gone by, and of what could or should have been.
We would recall accomplishments that filled us with joy and pride and happenings that plunged us into disappointment and despair.
31st of December has multiple significance apart from being the last day of the year.
It is observed as the Universal Hour of Peace Day as well as the World Peace Meditation Day.
These are observances that are in consonance with the year-end serene reflection of the need for a healing touch in our violence and strife- filled world.
The Universal Hour of Peace Day began as a vision, and a practice to uplift the consciousness of humanity.
The idea was that every human being on Earth should dedicate one hour a year to further peace in a symbolic gesture of unity, at a specified time.
The agreed time on 31st December is, noon in London (GMT) that corresponds to 4 a m in Los Angeles, 5 pm in New Delhi, or 9 pm in Tokyo.
It is a sincere effort to pray for a world free from war, a world in which people respect and value others.
The first Universal Hour of Peace, however, was observed on October 24, l995, to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the United Nations.
A related observance, World Peace Meditation Day, also called the World Healing Day was first observed at noon GMT, on December 31, 1986.
It brought together over 500-million people representing all religious faiths on seven continents, in more than seventy countries.
Their common goal — spend some time in silent meditation as families, individuals or small communities in the interest of global peace and harmony.
In many countries, New Year’s Eve is a time for social gatherings, partying and merriment.
Fireworks displays have been key elements of outdoor events for centuries, rooted in the age-old belief that these would drive away any lingering evil spirits from finding a foothold in the New Year.
One of the biggest celebrations is in Sydney, Australia where more than 80,000 fireworks are set off from Sydney Harbour Bridge.
More spiritually oriented folks cut out on the revelry and spent time in quiet and sober thanksgiving at watch night service.
A few useful questions we can ask to aid our reflection on New Year eve are: What were our new learning and accomplishments of the year? What were the major setbacks and reasons for these? How can we face such challenges in future? Who are the people we ought to be grateful to, for making a difference in our life.
The first New Year was celebrated 4,000 years ago by the ancient Babylonians but it was probably on March 23 coinciding with the vernal equinox.
We owe the first New Year’s celebration on January 1st to Julius Caesar, the Roman Emperor, who declared the day a national holiday in 46 BC.
He aptly named the first month after Janus, the Roman god of doors and gates.
Janus had two faces, one looking forward and one looking back.
As we move forward, let us learn from the failings of the past and build on the success and goodness of the days behind us.
Here’s wishing our readers a bright and prosperous 2016.
• Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
— Oprah Winfrey
• May the New Year bring you new strength, new hope and new dreams. — Lailah Gifty Akita
• Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbours, and let every New Year find you a better man. — Benjamin Franklin
• Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience instils in us. — Hal Borland