It’s Obon Season Again!

Each summer from June to August, communities across the State of Hawai‘i gather for the annual Bon dance festivals.

Many generations of both Buddhists and non-Buddhists gather to honor the memories of their ancestors, while nurturing the community through dancing, fellowship and, of course, food, at the same time.

Obon, or just Bon, is a fusion of the ancient Japanese belief in ancestral spirits and a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors. It is believed that a follower’s mother was saved by the Buddha, who danced with joy.

Bon dance has undergone a modernization, while attempting to maintain the tradition. With the resurgence of Obon after the pandemic, we see that Obon maintains its ability to reconnect/connect everyone through “Okage Sama De” (I am who I am because of you/You are who you are because of me). Obon also fosters the importance of who we are because of our families, community and place in an ever-changing world.

Today, kūpuna and keiki alike travel across the state to be immersed in the experiences of traditional Bon dances and massive festivals, such as the Mo’ili’ili Summer Fest and Megabon on July 6.

With so much going on in the world, Obon offers great opportunities to be able to escape — even for just a moment — to dance the night away in joy and appreciation, patronize local vendors or temple booths, and celebrate the life that we have. Hope to see you there!

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