A daily study of the Network’s diverse faiths
Obon (お盆, Festival of Souls). Annual Japanese Buddhist three-day commemoration to 16 August in parts of Tokyo of departed ancestors, whose spirits are believed to return to this world at this time in order to visit their relatives. The origins of the festival lie in Shinto, a native Japanese way of life that celebrates nature. Traditionally, lanterns are hung in front of houses to guide the ancestors’ spirits, fires are lit, obon dances (bon odori, 盆踊り) are performed, graves are visited and cleaned, and food offerings are made at home altars and temples. At the end of Obon, floating lanterns are put into rivers, lakes and the sea in order to guide the spirits back to their world. The customs followed vary from region to region. Obon would have been observed around the fifteenth day of the seventh month of the year on the present solar calendar but this roughly corresponded to August on the formerly-used lunar calendar, hence the present date in August or September, although it is still observed in some areas including other parts of Tokyo in mid-July. The associated Chinese Taoist and Buddhist Ghost Festival (Zhong yuan, 中元節) will be on 22 August. The Obon week has evolved from the original Buddhist-Confucian commemoration into a family celebration during one of Japan’s three major holiday seasons, the others being New Year and Golden Week, which will start on 29 April. This year, people were asked to refrain from travelling between the 47 prefecturas into which Japan is divided in order to prevent a further spread of Covid-19. Image: dayfinders.com.
Naga Panchami. Traditional Hindu day of worship of nagas (snakes) in India, Nepal and other countries, on the Panchami fifth day of the waxing bright half (Shukla Paksha) of the moon, although some Indian states such as Rajasthan and Gujarat celebrate Naga Panchami on the waning dark half (Krishna Paksha) of the same Shravana fifth month of the Hindu lunisolar calendar (Panchang). During the festival, women observe a sunrise to sunset vrat (fast), abstaining from food to signify devotion and discipline. In the temple, a Naga (serpent deity) made of silver, stone or wood, or a painting of snakes is reverentially bathed with milk and blessings are sought for the welfare of the family. Live snakes such as cobras are also worshipped in snake pits, with offerings of milk, sweets and flowers with the assistance of a snake charmer. In the Fourth-Century BCE or earlier Mahabharata epic Sanskrit poem, the sage Astika stopped, on the Shukla Paksha Panchami day of the month of Shravana, the sacrifice of serpents (Sarpa Satra) by the King, who wished to avenge the death of his father from a snake bite, and the day has since been observed as Naga Panchami. No fried or salty food is prepared on this auspicious day, but popular dishes include Til Ke Lado (roast sesame seeds), Nariyal Mithai (rice and coconut batter squares), Dind (chickpea and flour balls), Patholi (ground coconut and rice) and Kara KadubuI (black lentil dal dough balls). Image: latestly.com.
Apodosis of Afterfeast of the Transfiguration of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (Απόδοσης οφ Μεταγευματικη γιορτη της Μεταμορφώσεως). The last day of the Afterfeast (Apodosis, ἀπόδοσις, отдание, Leave-taking, Giving-back) of the 6 August Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. An Afterfeast is a period of celebration extending one of the Great Feasts in the Orthodox Christian and Eastern Catholic Churches, somewhat analogous to the Western Church Octave but not of a fixed period, the present Afterfeast being for seven days after the Feast. On the Apodosis, most of the hymns that were chanted on the first day of the Feast are repeated. Image: www.johnsanidopoulos.com.
Prayer You were transfigured on the Mount, Christ God, revealing Your glory to Your disciples, insofar as they could comprehend. Illuminate we sinners also with Your everlasting light, through the intercessions of the Theotokos. Giver of light, glory to You. Amen ἀμήν