Obon and Obon odori Set

Alameda Sun, July 9, 2009

Alameda, CA (USA) -- The Buddhist Temple of Alameda will celebrate its annual Obon Festival on Saturday, July 25. The Chidori band of San Jose will provide musical accompaniment for the dancing. Dancing begins at 7 p.m. There will also be a food bazaar and silent auction beginning at 4 p.m., with taiko demonstration at 5 p.m.

For those who would like to participate in the dancing, practices will be held Tuesday, July 14; Thursday, July 16; Tuesday, July 21; and Thursday, July 23. All practices begin at 7:30 p.m. at the temple.

An Obon service will be held at the temple Sunday, July 26, at 10 a.m.

The guest speaker will be the Rev. Ron Kobata. The Buddhist Temple is located at 2325 Pacific Ave. between Park and Oak streets.

Obon is a Japanese Buddhist tradition and is the period of praying for the repose of the souls of one's ancestors. People believe that their ancestors' spirits come back to their homes to be reunited with their family during Obon.

Obon is an important family gathering time and many people return to their hometowns.

Obon was originally celebrated around the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. Obon periods are nowadays different in various regions of Japan.

Toro Nagashi (floating paper lanterns) is a custom often held during Obon.

People send off ancestors' spirits with a paper lantern, lit by a candle inside and floated down a river to the ocean.

Bon odori (folk dance) is the most common custom in Obon. The kind of dance varies from area to area.

People wearing yukata (summer kimonos) go to the neighborhood bon odori and dance around a yagura stage.

Anyone can participate in bon odori. Join the circle and imitate what others are doing.

Usually, taiko drums keep the rhythms in bon odori.