Philadelphia Bon Odori Sunday, August 24, 2014 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Clark Park, Philadelphia, PA. Practice traditional dances in celebration of the Japanese Obon Festival.
Philadelphia Bon Odori is sponsored by Shofuso, the Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park, which in addition to being a lovely place to visit, is home to a variety of Japanese cultural activities. Also supported by the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation.
The celebration is organized by the Philadelphia Japanese Arts Alliance, a network of Japanese arts practitioners that includes classical Japanese dance, taiko drumming, and tea ceremony.
What is O-Bon?
The Japanese festival of O-Bon, or just Bon, is traditionally a three-day celebration held to honor the spirits of the dead. There are a number of practices associated with it, including visitings and cleaning the graves of one’s ancestors, placing floating lanterns on the water to symbolize the return of the spirits to the otherworld, and the Bon Odori, the Bon Dance.
The origin of the Bon Dance is said to be a disciple of the Buddha who used his powers to see into the realms of the spirits, and learned that his late mother had fallen into the Realm of the Hungry Ghosts and was suffering. Disturbed, he asked the Buddha how he could release his mother, and was told that he should make offerings to the Buddhist monks who were just coming out of a summer retreat. The offerings worked, and the disciple saw not only that his mother had been released, but also all of her past kindnesses and the sacrifices she had made for him. Overjoyed, the disciple broke into a joyful dance.
The Bon Dance can vary from region to region, but it is meant as a celebration and an honoring of all who have passed before us.
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