There is nothing so simple and yet so iconic as the lanterns used in Japanese celebrations. I snapped this dramatic display on a recent shopping excursion to our local Mitsuwa Marketplace. Every year they hold a festival for “Hachigatsu Bon,” literally Bon in August.
Obon is a time when people honor the memory of their ancestors. For me I like the spirit behind the Buddhist story which gives the holiday its origin. The lesson at its essence is a great reminder to be selfless and to be of service to others. In the tale a gifted monk learns of his mother’s suffering in the afterlife. He seeks to find relief for her and in doing so reflects on the many sacrifices she made for him. With help from the Buddha, his mother is freed from her suffering and the monk so joyous at this begins to dance. And so the celebration of dance has been woven into the holiday’s festivities.
I often these days find myself caught up in the frantic pace of work, school, taking care of home and family and have a tendency to pull back in these times and be selfish. “Oh woe is me, look at everything I have to do, oh me oh my.” It is a part of myself that I am very mindful of as it so displeases me. So I am inspired this year for Obon to have an opportunity to reflect and try to think more of others and how I can help them. Even if it is small things, I think one is truly most happy when they work to ease the burden of others.