Japanese Obon Festival

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 73
  • Published : May 16, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
Japanese Obon Festival
A Buddhist monk, able to see the dead, saw his mother struggling in the afterworld of Hungry Ghosts, the Hell of Starvation. Horrified by his clairvoyant vision, the Buddhist monk, Mokuren, ran to Buddha and was instructed to give each Buddhist monk offerings on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. Doing so and seeing his mother's release, Mokuren realized how much she had sacrificed for him and danced in great joy and gratitude. Much like the story of Mokuren, the Japanese Obon (pronounced o-bone) festival is a family oriented celebration which appreciates the sacrifices of one's ancestors. Japan's fashion of celebrating their ancestor's sacrifices has its origins steeped in Buddhist culture. Obon has been celebrated annually since its introduction by the Chinese in the seventh century (more accurately 657 A.D.). Abbreviated from Urabon (the Japanese transliteration of the Sanskrit word "Ullambana"), Obon means "to hang upside down," which communicates the retched suffering of either body or spirit, literally or metaphorically, of being hung upside down. Obon is a ritual, which operates according to Sakyamuni Buddha's Urabon Sutra, the story of Mokuren. This ritual was practiced the same way Sakyamuni Buddha instructed Mokuren to do, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. This tradition changed over the centuries and is now more commonly practiced August 13-16th, though most places in Okinawa (southern Japan) still celebrate Obon on the Lunar Calendar's seventh month. Like the story implies, Obon is not a mournful celebration and is known as the Festival of Light or the Festival of Joy. For the three days of Obon, people may dance, eat good food, play games, and pray to show the joy they have for what their ancestors had to give up when they were alive. These celebratory features however, must be prepared for to adequately honor the ancestor's spirits. Before the Obon festival begins, families gather and prepare their homes and the...
tracking img