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Obon Ceremony

Our family had a first Obon ceremony today as my grandmother on mother’s side had passed away in June. Obon is a Buddhist custom which is called “Day of the dead” in English. During the Obon period, we welcome our ancestor’s souls from the other world on 13th August and send them off on 15th August.

The first Obon ceremony for the dead is special. We usually have a special ceremony on 15th August if a family member passed away within a year. We visited the local Buddhist temple to have the Obon ceremony today. There were about 100 participants as 15 families hold the Obon ceremony together. A Buddhist monk presided over the ceremony. He recited a prayer to the Buddha for about 30 minutes. While he was chanting, the participants burned incense in turn.

My mother prepared a vegetable vehicle for my grandmother. She put four wooden sticks into a cucumber which represents a fast horse. A deceased person’s soul is said to ride this cucumber horse to come back to this world. We also prepared an eggplant with four wooden sticks which represents a cow. Since we want the deceased person’s soul to stay longer, the cucumber horse is meant to take the soul faster from where the soul stays and the eggplant cow is meant to go back slower to the other world. It is an old custom and we know it is merely a superstition, but it’s a good opportunity to think about our ancestors during the Obon period.

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