Obon, the Japanese festival of Souls, is one that I try to do a better job of observing every year. It contains a lot of meaning that resonates with me and that only increases as more of my loved ones pass from the mortal realm. This is a solemn but joyous festival that marks a time when beloved spirits are able to reunite with their families.
Three friends of mine have moved on this year, one I enjoyed talking to and worked with, one I was inspired by, and one who I loved as my own daughter. So in my own way of honoring the Obon tradition, I will be posting links to good articles about it and making my own suggestions of ways to celebrate it.
Other names for Obon are the Ghost Festival and the Lantern Festival.
I have a couple of links with more information and will continue to post more. I hope you enjoy them!
My first article comes from the Huffington Post contributor section and gives a good overview of what is done on each day.
In the days before Obon, the house is cleaned, flowers are arranged for beloved dead, lanterns are bought or made, and figurines are made out of eggplants, cucumbers, and disposable chopsticks. Four disposable chopsticks are stuck into a cucumber to make a horse to symbolize the spirits coming quickly to the home, and the same is done with an eggplant to make a cow to symbolize the spirits leaving slowly. I find this tradition very cute and a little funny.
Here’s a short article about the horses and cows:
From the Huffington Post article:
The first day of Obon is spent welcoming ancestral spirits home. Families place offerings of fruit, rice, green tea, sake and lotus-shaped sweets at the graves or family altars. Paper lanterns are hung round the house to help guide the spirits home. Some families carry lanterns from the graves back to their homes.
Some ideas about how to celebrate the first day of Obon:
Check out Youtube videos and articles about the festival
Visit a grave of someone you care about, and bring flowers
Light candles or lanterns and put them in the window
Hang paper lanterns
Tell happy stories about people who are gone
Display photos of people who have passed away, so you can see them and smile