Obon Festival is the Japanese Festival of Souls

Obon Festival is the Japanese Festival of Souls

The Obon Festival, also known as the Festival of Souls is a Buddhist celebration that takes place each July, in Japan. The festival has a very important cultural significance for the Japanese, who believe that during this celebration, the souls of their ancestors return to their homes on earth.

Obon Festival, Japan
Photo source: 1440blog.com

Japanese try to guide and help their ancestors’ spirits to find peace. To do that, they hang lanterns outside their houses. Moreover, during the 3-day festival, families hang lanterns beside the graves of their loved ones.

Obon Festival lanterns
Photo source: moviefancentral.com

People prepare a variety of foods for the souls of their ancestors and gather for the Bon dance. The Bon dance has a very interesting legend. Actually, the Obon Festival is based on the story of a monk, Mokuren. The monk had a vision that the soul of his mother was not in peace after her death, because of her sins in life. The monk listened to the advice of his Guru, who said that the soul of this woman will find peace if her son performs good deeds to balance the bad that she did. When Mokuren found that none of the things he did helped the soul of his mother, he broke into a joyful dance of relief. This dance is now known as the Bon dance.

Obon Festival dancing
Photo source: japanitup.com

More than a celebration, the Obon Festival is a moment in which people in Japan honor their loved ones who have passed away. A common ceremony during this festival is the custom of lighting paper lanterns to send them out to the sea. This is how Japanese honor their relatives who have passed away.

Obon Festival lightsPhoto source: es.wikipedia.org

During the 3 days of the festival, people pray for the spirits of their ancestors. Families visit the tombs of their ancestors’ and light their way home. On the last day of the festival, the spirits are brought back to the grave. Still, the traditional celebration has evolved to become nowadays more like a family reunion. What do you think about this Japanese cultural celebration?

Reference: tokyo-top-guide.com; examiner.com

Jenns Nusbaum
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