Obon Festival

The Obon Festival is coming to a close for the year.  I always think of summer and Obon as a very special season, a joyful time to express gratitude to those who have come before us.  I have friends, neighbors and relatives that are Japanese.

Obon is a  Buddhist tradition that honors one's family ancestors and appreciate their sacrifices in life. These ancestors are said to visit their relatives during the festival. Families gather at their relative's grave and clean the sites. A show of reverence to those who came before  is such a touching display of  acknowledgment and respect. 

The colorful Obon celebration, features exuberant Taiko drummers( one of my favorite parts), and local food booths as well as the Bon Odori, a folk dance to welcome the spirits of the deceased. Dancers are meant to set aside self conscious thoughts and dance without ego or concern of how they look.

Regardless of religious affiliation and culture, all are welcome.  I always feel comfortable and enjoy from the side lines the circle of colorfully and traditionally dressed dancing participants. I know all are welcome, but, I still have not gotten up enough nerve to step into the circle yet. I honestly enjoy sitting in the temple in quiet contemplation for a little while during all the merry making outside.

 Many participants wear the light cotton summer kimono called the yukata, or the happi coats. Young and old, formally trained and folks just winging it, all gather in rings around the central raised platform called the yagura. The songs of the folk dances often tell stories of traditions of fishing and farming. Even though I do not understand the words, the spirit of joy is obvious.

Come as you are to Obon, honor your loved ones and be grateful for the joy in our lives.

With Much Aloha,