July 6, 2011

It's Obon Season!

We are already well into Obon season, and I haven’t even started to practice my moves yet!

I’ve posted about this holiday and festival before, and you can probably expect a few more posts this summer. My favorite explanation is still this article by Rev. Patti Usuki.

In Japan, Obon has been held since 657 CE. It is observed in July or August. A commonly held belief among people in Japan is that the disembodied spirits of the dead return to visit at this time of year. This belief is not supported by Jodo Shin Buddhists, who consider such a belief to be an unfounded superstition

Most Japanese-American Buddhists belong to the Jodo Shinshu school (including the sangha of West LA Buddhist Temple), so it is important to understand the history and significance of our Obon Festival. It is not, as some mistakenly believe, to welcome back the spirits of the dead. Instead, it is a time of gratitude, giving, and joy in the Truth of Life. Hence, it is also known as Kangi-e, or the Gathering of Joy.

There are already videos up of this year’s bon odori at the Arizona Buddhist Temple and the San Fernando Valley Buddhist Temple. If anyone has any other photos or video—especially from the recent Senshin or West Covina Obon festivities, I’ll most happily post those here too!

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