Oversea

Ullambana and Obon: Buddhists, Japanese celebrate summer festival

Update: 06/08/2016
A sweeping festival of ancient dances, intricate costumes, and a celebration of Japanese culture commences; and, today, the spirit of Obon circles the globe.
 

Ullambana and Obon: Buddhists, Japanese celebrate summer festival

 

Worldwide, this festival spans an entire month: “Shichigatsu\r\nBon,” celebrated in Eastern Japan, begins in mid-July; “Hachigatsu Bon”\r\ncommences in August; “Kyu Bon,” or “Old Bon,” is observed annually on the 15thday\r\nof the seventh month of the lunar calendar.

\r\n\r\n

Born of Buddhist tradition and the Japanese custom of\r\nhonoring the spirits of ancestors—Obon is a time for homecomings, visiting\r\nfamily gravesites, dances, storytelling and decorating household altars. Light\r\ncotton kimonos, carnival rides and games and festival foods are common at during\r\nthis season. Obon has been a Japanese tradition for more than 500 years.

\r\n\r\n

“Obon,” from Sanskrit’s “Ullambana,” suggests great\r\nsuffering, as the full term translates into “hanging upside down.”Bon-Odori—and\r\nthe Buddhist legend it stems from—recall a disciple of Buddha who used\r\nsupernatural abilities to look upon his deceased mother. When the disciple saw\r\nthat his mother had fallen into the Realm of Hungry Ghosts and was suffering,\r\nhe asked Buddha how he could help her. The disciple made offerings to Buddhist\r\nmonks who had just completed their summer retreat and, soon after, saw his\r\nmother released from the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. With his new-found insight,\r\nthe disciple suddenly saw the true nature of his mother—her selflessness, and\r\nthe sacrifices she had made for him—and with extra joy, he danced what is now\r\ntheBon-Odori.A primary purpose of Obon is to ease the suffering of\r\ndeceased loved ones while expressing joy for the sacrifices loved ones have made.

\r\n\r\n

THEBON ODORIDANCE\r\nANDTORO NAGASHILANTERNS

\r\n\r\n

The official dance of Obon, though it follows a universal\r\npattern, differs in many details by region. Music and steps typically reflect a\r\nregion’s history, culture and livelihood. In addition, some regions incorporate\r\nitems such as fans, small towels or wooden clappers into the dance, while\r\nothers do not. Nonetheless, everyone is welcome to join in the Bon-Odori dance.\r\nWhen the festival draws to a close, paper lanterns are illuminated and then\r\nfloated down rivers, symbolizing the ancestors’ return to the world of the dead\r\n(Toro Nagashi). Fireworks often follow.

\r\n\r\n

Outside of Japan, the festivities of Obon resonate through\r\nBrazil—home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan—as well as in\r\nArgentina, Korea, the United States and Canada. In Brazil, street Odori dancing\r\ncomplements the Matsuri dance, and Taiko (drumming) and Shamisen contests are\r\nheld.Buddhist Churches of America temples host events throughout the\r\nUnited States, and in Hawaii and California, events are abundant.

\r\n\r\n

Source: www.readthespirit.com

BBT Website

Related News

COVID-19 a Lesson in “Universal Responsibility,” Dalai Lama Says on Earth Day
03/05/2020
Korean Zen Master Pomnyun Sunim Offers Buddhist Guidance for Coping with the Pandemic
05/04/2020
A Million Turn Out for Samyak Mahadan Buddhist Festival in Patan, Nepal
03/03/2020
The Promise of Buddhist Economics
29/11/2018
Buddhist “Eco-monks” Work to Protect Thailand’s Environment
28/11/2018