Obon, the Japanese festival to honor the ancestral spirits

Obon is a Japanese festival which is celebrated in mid- August. It is the festival to honour the ancestors and pray for their soul. The festival will be accompanied by dance and other activities. Even though the day falls on August 15th, it is celebrated on different days at various places. This Buddhist culture of remembering the ancestral spirits is the time of family reunion in Japan.

Bon odori(Obon dance)

Everyone will gather with their families, and do some customs with the belief that their ancestral spirits will come to their home during this festival. The summer holidays of Japan will be during mid-August which are some consecutive holidays for all offices and schools. It provides a nice opportunity for the Japanese society to enjoy their get together at their family.

They will visit the graveyard of their family members, offer flowers and pray. All houses will be cleaned thoroughly to welcome the ancestral spirits. Incense will be burnt at temples and houses, and various food items will be offered to the spirits on this occasion. Round paper lanterns, usually red in colour (Couchin) are used to decorate houses, festive locations, and temples during this time. Lamps are the main attraction in such festive places. Some places have parades, fireworks and other performances associated with the festival. Most cities organize summer festivals which will be combined with Obon. Food stalls of such stores will give an opportunity to satiate your appetite with foods like Yakisoba, Takoyaki, sweets, and other items. Such street foods of festive locations are one of the most important attractions of the season.

Bon Odori is a dance performance done during the Obon Matsuri. People dressed up in Kimonos or Yukatas, and dance around a lamp in a circle. All the people, irrespective of their ages will participate in this dance performance. Some places have stage performances done by professional people. There are special sweet items found in shops during the Obon season. These are colourful sugar treats that we can find only during this time.