What is Obon?

The West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple has posted a wonderfully well-written and informative article by Rev. Patti Usuki on American Obon festivals.

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.

I searched around the Buddhist blogs for other mentions of Obon and sadly found only a single post by Rev. Danny Fisher with a couple links he plucked out of his daily news scan. Obon is a major holiday for Japanese American Buddhists, and by extension one of the longest held Buddhist festivals in North America. This weekend, you can catch the Revs. Usuki at West LA Buddhist Temple’s Obon festival. You’ll find me there and also in downtown LA at Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple’s 50th annual Obon festival!

Gardena Buddhist Church

I decided to replace today’s post for another day. In the meantime, my post on Southern California Obon festivals has brought over a number of web surfers who Googled for the blog of the Gardena Buddhist Church. I think this confusion has since been fixed on the search engine. The Gardena congregation maintains both a blog and temple website. They also hold the last and one of the most popular Obon festivals in Southern California, on August 1 and 2. If you live in the area you should check it out! Not to mention, you should also go “Obon hopping” to all the other local festivals on the weekends in between! This weekend you can check out festivals in PasadenaVenice and Guadelupe.

Dharma Realm Buddhist Young Adults

Here’s a group of amazing young Northern California Buddhists who work to make Buddhism more accessible to young folk.

The Dharma Realm Buddhist Young Adults (DRBY) consists of college students and young adults who are interested in applying Buddhist principles to their daily lives. DRBY is a community of young people who are searching for wisdom and are committed to helping others while advancing on their own spiritual path. This community provides support for each other’s spiritual cultivation and inquiry into life’s deeper meaning in a friendly and open atmosphere. 

DRBY meets every Wednesday at the Berkeley Buddhist Monastery for meditation, discussion and food. You can follow this group of truly inspirational individuals on Facebook and on Twitter, with a blog to come soon!