7:30pm July 13th – 435 West Menomonee Street, Chicago, Il
The Midwest Buddhist Temple is inviting the public to participate in the temple’s Obon Festival, an outdoor Japanese folk dancing festival. It is held each year on the second Saturday in July and is followed by the religious observance of Obon on Sunday, when loved ones who have passed away are remembered.
The dancing takes place in the temple parking lot under Japanese lanterns, with dancers encircling a yagura, or tower, which is seen as an expression of joy in the Buddhist teachings. With a taiko drum placed atop the yagura, the Special events sound of drumming and Japanese folk music fill the night air as dancers, many wearing kimono or cotton yukata, join in the simple folk dances.
The Obon is one of the most widely celebrated and colorful of the Buddhist observances, dating back some 15 hundred years.
Its origin is linked to the Ullambana sutra which is related to the story of Maudgalyayana, one of the great disciples of the Buddha. In this story, Maudgalyayana sees his departed mother suffering in the fiery domain of the Hungry Devils, a domain where hunger and thirst know no bounds. Everything that is touched immediately bursts into flames. Grieving at what he sees, he attempts to relieve her suffering, but his attempts are futile. In desperation, he goes to the Buddha and the All Compassionate One shows him the way. Following the path shown him, he finally succeeds and his mother’s suffering is relieved. He is overjoyed. He and his friends rejoice, expressing their joy and gratitude with music and dancing.
The Obon is symbolic of that occasion. It is a free event, with beverages available for sale.