And the answer to the question about Obon is………..well, maybe. How’s that for a wishy washy answer! Based upon our initial poll results, there appears to be a lot of support for having a “normal” Obon this year. The results also confirm our earlier suspicions…many of our more “experienced” Sangha members are not quite ready, but the younger members are all gung-ho for getting back into the swing of things. These results closely match the attitudes of the overall Santa Clara County community. The current data shows that infections have largely reduced here, primarily due to the relatively high vaccination rates and previous number of infected people. However, there is the danger that the new variant, B.A.2 that is spreading across Europe may create a new surge here in the US. We will have to keep a close watch on updated COVID data.
So that is part of the answer. The other pressing question is whether or not we will have enough volunteers to handle all of hundreds of jobs that are required to run an Obon. I’m not sure if you have ever really stopped to think about the thousands of volunteer hours that are required to plan and organize, obtain permits and order outside services, order food and supplies, construct and deconstruct, prepare, cook and sell food, work game booths, organize entertainment and run our Odori practices and dances, staff our Hondo for outside visitors, etc. It is a crazy event that goes off annually due to the hard work and knowledge of our Sangha.
In the next month or so, we will determine what type of Obon we can expect. I fully expect this Obon to be different from prior ones. It is totally understandable as some do not feel comfortable participating, either volunteering or attending, and there will likely be fewer booths and possibly shorter “open” times. However, it will be an opportunity to gather again and see familiar faces.
It appears that we are slowly emerging from the pandemic here at the Betsuin. While we still have restrictions on the number of people allowed in the different facilities and we do still require masks, things are improving. Just in the past month, YBA had their annual Spaghetti dinner and Boy Scouts had their annual Korean Beef dinner…although both were “take-out” only. I hope that all those golfers will again join us at San Jose Country Club for our annual golf tournament (more info later is this Dharma). We also selling raffle tickets to all those interested ($4000 first place plus ten $100 winners)…do not have to golf. So continue to do your best….wear masks, get vaccinated and boosted and maintain social distancing when possible. The future certainly looks much brighter as we get back to some sense of normalcy!