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Thread: Obon

  1. #1

    Obon

    Just so you know, this week is "Obon" holiday in Japan. It is a big Buddhist holiday here, but not so big in the west except among families of Japanese heritage. It is actually a time of ancestor remembrance, and to visit the graves of parents and grandparents.

    We do not celebrate the holiday in our Sangha, and have a day for remembering our family and friends who have passed in February ...

    https://www.treeleaf.org/forums/show...ighlight=nehan

    ... but you may wish to take some time to remember them again this week.

    Here is some information about "Obon" (actually, there are two in Japan, one in July, but most people celebrate now in August):

    Obon [お盆] is the festival celebrated in Japan in mid-August, on the 15th. But the Obon festival season lasts for a few days, from the 13th to the 17th of the month, but different areas of Japan celebrate this festival on different days. It is the day to remember and honour the spirits of the ancestors. All the Japanese will visit their family and go to the graveyards’ of their families. Actually it can hardly be called a festival, it is a Buddhist tradition observed in Japan and in the other Buddhist nations as well. It is not an official national holiday, but many companies are closed down in Japan on those days, and the Japanese get together with all their family members. They believe that the souls of ancestors will come back and join them on this particular day.

    All the houses are thoroughly cleaned in advance to welcome the spirits, and foods such as vegetables, sweets and fruits are placed as offerings in front of the altars in houses and temples. Incenses will be burnt during these days in every house. Paper lanterns called chochin and flowers are used to decorate the houses and the butsuden. People will go to the graveyard of their relatives to invite the souls to come home with them, and this tradition is called Mukae-bon. ... During this festival, Bon Odori dance is performed accompanied with a special music and drums. All the people dress in kimonos or yukatas and dance on the stage. They normally form a circle and dance around a lamp or a lantern, and almost everyone in the crowd will join this dance. This is done to welcome the spirits and hence this dance is considered the dance for the spirits. These are usually held at parks, temples or shrines, adorned with countless paper lanterns. Some temples and shrines are famous for their festivals held during the obon season. Rokudo mairi is the practice in which people gather at the temples or shrines to call for their ancestral spirits.

    ... Nowadays, Obon is considered a time for the family reunion and, that aspect is more important than honouring the souls in the present day society. People working and living in urban areas, and those living far from their home and family, will be coming back to their homes and enjoying the family presence during these days.

    http://jpninfo.com/17480

    Bon Odori originates from the story of Maha Maudgalyayana (Mokuren), a disciple of the Buddha, who used his supernatural powers to look upon his deceased mother. He discovered she had fallen into the Realm of Hungry Ghosts and was suffering. Greatly disturbed, he went to the Buddha and asked how he could release his mother from this realm. Buddha instructed him to make offerings to the many Buddhist monks who had just completed their summer retreat, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. The disciple did this and, thus, saw his mother's release. He also began to see the true nature of her past selflessness and the many sacrifices that she had made for him. The disciple, happy because of his mother's release and grateful for his mother's kindness, danced with joy. From this dance of joy comes Bon Odori or "Bon Dance", a time in which ancestors and their sacrifices are remembered and appreciated.
    Bon Odori dance at a Soto Zen temple in Hawaii ...


    Gassho, J

    STLah

    PS - Yes, you may notice that Japanese Buddhism is a bit ambiguous about whether there are "souls" or "spirits" of the dead that can visit, a belief in souls and such that is not philosophically usually part of traditional Buddhism. It is more very ancient Japanese beliefs that became part of Japanese Buddhism, and the Zen and other Japanese Buddhist priests usually just let the question be ambiguous and celebrate Obon and welcome the spirits.
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-17-2019 at 03:38 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  2. #2
    Happy Obon!

    Gassho
    Shingen

    Sat/LAH
    RINDO SHINGEN
    倫道 真現

  3. #3
    Here in Vietnam we do not have Obon, but we have the Ullambana or Vietnamese Vu Lan festival. The exact day is the 25th of August this year. Next month followed by Tet Trung Thu, the Moon Festival (which is not a Buddhist festival after all). Obon, as far as I remember, was celebrated several days? Vu Lan is only celebrated in Mahayana-pagodas but not in the Theravada ones. Only active Buddhists will celebrate it anyway. There is no official holiday then. I think Ullambana and Obon are quite related but differ due to historic developments.

    Gassho
    Karsten

    SAT/ LAH

  4. #4
    Thank you. Happy Obon (hopefully it's ok to say so).

    In Germany, catholic believers celebrate 'Allerseelen', All Souls' Day on 2. november.
    German protestants celebrate 'Totensonntag', Sunday in commemoration of the dead, on last Sunday before the advent Sundays.

    Gassho,
    Kotei sattoday.
    古庭 KoTei / Ralf

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Kotei View Post
    Thank you. Happy Obon (hopefully it's ok to say so).

    In Germany, catholic believers celebrate 'Allerseelen', All Souls' Day on 2. november.
    German protestants celebrate 'Totensonntag', Sunday in commemoration of the dead, on last Sunday before the advent Sundays.

    Gassho,
    Kotei sattoday.
    Probably they space it out like that because it is easier for the dead to book a flight.

    Gassho J

    StLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  6. #6
    Thank you Jundo. I'll remember a relative who passed last March and all those gone before
    As for traditions, we celebrate 'Tomb Sweeping Day' a week after each Easter in spring and which
    looks a bit similar to the Japanese Obon.

    Gassho
    Washin
    sat/lah
    Kaido (有道) Every Way
    Washin (和信) Harmony Trust
    ----
    I am a novice priest-in-training. Anything what I say must not be considered as teaching
    and should be taken with a 'grain of salt'.

  7. #7
    Ah, Obon dori the original line dancing. I recall making many Japanese laugh to see a gaijin dancing. also, you forgot to mention the great tradition of crowded Highways. One time I spent two and a half hours on a 12 km stretch of the Gikan close to Honozono just to get off the roadway once I realized what was happening.
    gasshp,Shokai

    stlah.
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    May we all grow together in our knowledge of the Dharma

  8. #8
    Interesting that Obon falls on the 15th, which in the Christian calendar is the Festival of the Assumption of Mary. In Italy this is known as Ferragosto and is a huge holiday, as big as Christmas Eve/Day and almost as big as Easter, marked by family time and of course lots of eating It also marks the beginning of the end of the Italian holiday season, with many holiday makers turning towards home after the 15th. This will be a lovely opportunity to quietly honour family and friends gone before me, but not forgotten.
    Love the line dancing!
    Gassho
    Meitou

    satwithyoualltoday/lah
    Last edited by Meitou; 08-12-2018 at 08:05 PM. Reason: forgot to say sat with you etc etc
    命 Mei - life
    島 Tou - island

  9. #9
    Just a little bump for this thread, as it is that time of year again ...

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  10. #10


    Gassho,
    Washin
    just sat
    Kaido (有道) Every Way
    Washin (和信) Harmony Trust
    ----
    I am a novice priest-in-training. Anything what I say must not be considered as teaching
    and should be taken with a 'grain of salt'.

  11. #11
    Sharing Obon at my country home.

    I will try to scribe more.



    LAH
    Gassho
    Sat today
    Kakunen

  12. #12
    Hi Kakunen,

    Lovely. But is that "Obon," or a local/Shinto Matsuri that happens to be about the same time as Obon? Some of the amazing floats (山車) seem to be from a local temple, but the festival not really Obon/Buddhist?

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 08-17-2019 at 05:58 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  13. #13
    Member Onka's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2019
    Location
    Rural Queensland, Australia
    Weird that I was thinking about my father last night as I was shaving my head thinking that I thought he would be proud of me for undertaking this journey.
    Gassho
    Anna

    ST/LAH
    On Ka
    穏 火
    aka Anna Kissed.
    No Gods No Masters.
    Life is too serious to be taken seriously.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Hi Kakunen,

    Lovely. But is that "Obon," or a local/Shinto Matsuri that happens to be about the same time as Obon? Some of the amazing floats (山車) seem to be from a local temple, but the festival not really Obon/Buddhist?

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah
    This is Obon,festival.Fact.

    Soto Zen,I know.

    In Japan lots of TOHOKU,north side of Japan traditional style.

    Gassho
    LAH
    SAT TODAY
    kakunen
    Last edited by Kakunen; 08-17-2019 at 06:20 AM.

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