A Little Bit of Culture

In my family, we have a few traditions that go way back to childhood, like most people.  One that I remember, getting dressed up for the Obon Festival that my family religiously went to and danced at every year.


So you may not know, but I’m half Japanese…therefore, this is one Japanese tradition I enjoy.  What is the “Obon”?  Well, here is a little history from  Wikipedia:


Obon is a shortened form of Ullambana (Ghost Festival).


Bon Odori originates from the story of Maha Maudgalyayana (Mokuren), a disciple of the Buddha, who used his supernatural powers to look upon his deceased mother. He discovered she had fallen into the Realm of Hungry Ghosts and was suffering.[3] Greatly disturbed, he went to the Buddha and asked how he could release his mother from this realm. Buddha instructed him to make offerings to the many Buddhist monks who had just completed their summer retreat, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. The disciple did this and, thus, saw his mother’s release. He also began to see the true nature of her past unselfishness and the many sacrifices that she had made for him. The disciple, happy because of his mother’s release and grateful for his mother’s kindness, danced with joy. From this dance of joy comes Bon Odori or “Bon Dance”, a time in which ancestors and their sacrifices are remembered and appreciated. See also: Ullambana Sutra.


As Obon occurs in the heat of the summer, participants traditionally wear yukata, or light cotton kimonos. Many Obon celebrations include a huge carnival with rides, games, and summer festival food like watermelon.[4]


The festival ends with Toro Nagashi, or the floating of lanterns. Paper lanterns are illuminated and then floated down rivers symbolically signaling the ancestral spirits’ return to the world of the dead. This ceremony usually culminates in a fireworks display.

Every year, the Gardena Buddhist Temple celebrates the Obon in August:

Last year I went with my mom, danced the dances I remembered from childhood and learned a few new ones.  This year, my children got to partake in the tradition:

For me, it was exciting to be able to see my munchkins in the traditional costumes, eat the wonderful food and learn the dances I enjoyed as a kid.  

Even Grandma was excited that the kids were able to join in the fun this year.  She even picked out their outfits.

Me and my mini me….

What kind sort of cultural traditions are you passing down to your children?


Sharing is caring!

4 thoughts on “A Little Bit of Culture”

Leave a Reply