July: Obon Festival
Obon will soon be upon us. Preparations for the Obon festival have been underway for months. During the one weekend hundreds of volunteers will power the events. It is amazing that after so many decades we are still able to enjoy our community and sangha coming together. Generations have passed. Recipes have changed. Food booths and game booths have changed. There have been many teachers who shared their wisdom about sushi or chicken teriyaki or gamebooths. They have entrusted the next generation with skills and lessons learned.
On the week nights before the Obon festival hundreds of people prepare chicken and skewer beef. And even before that the kitchen and multipurpose room are filled with people preparing ahn and baking manju. These skills too have been passed down and changed. Innovations have entered the preparations. Cooker and sqoosher techniques have changed. Little pots have become big vats. Mechanical presses have been improved and continue to under go new iterations.
Obon festival is not the same and yet it continues to be an opportunity to bring people together. Obon practice brings hundreds of people to the (now air conditioned) annex. For some it is a first time. As challenging as the work and the hours can be people come together. Obon brings our community together to share in the effort to make one big, huge undertaking to happen. We learn from each other. We some times we have to learn to practice patience. However, we are also able to look back and see with appreciation the remarkable achievement of hosting our community friends on the grounds of our temple for this one weekend.
The opening of the temple to visitors has introduced many to Buddhism and Jodo Shinshu. We have an opportunity to share the Buddhadharma with others. Above the onaijin is a plaque that reads, “Kai Ho Zo” which means “To Open up the Dharma Storehouse” To share the Dharma is at the core of what we do at the temple. Through the work of our sangha we are able to do that.
People who come to the Obon festival may not know of Mokuren. But they know they can come to the festival and have an enjoyable day. And maybe someone may wander into the hondo and discover the Buddhadharma and find joy in the nembutsu.
Thank you everyone.