A landmark in Keaau town, the Puna Hongwanji Mission will observe its annual O-bon festival on Friday and Saturday, July 5-6. The resident minister, David Fujimoto, will conduct a 6 p.m. service on both nights. The featured guest speaker on Friday will be the Rev. Jay Okamoto, resident minister for Waipahu Hongwanji.
In Jodo Shinshu Buddhism, the word for O-Bon is Kangie-e, explained Fujimoto. It means a gathering of complete joy.
“Amida Buddha fulfilled unconditional vows assuring all beings being born into the Land of Bliss. When we realize this, we can realize complete joy in the here and now, he said.
“O-bon is a time of reflecting and celebrating our lives as we remember our departed. This significant religious observance has become a multicultural social tradition. Families gather to share the joy of dancing with their children and grandchildren and invite visitors and friends to come along.”
The “Men of Puna Hongwanji” will start each night of bon dancing. Tsukikage Odorikai will provide the recorded music selection, while The Hilo Bon Dance Club will perform the live music.
Again this year, Puna Hongwanji will be adding something special to the O-bon festivities. Tanabata, or the Star Festival, will take place on the second day. The festival traces its origins to a legend that the Cowherd Star (Altair) and Weaver Star (Vega), lovers separated by the Milky Way, are allowed to meet just once a year — on the seventh day of the seventh month.
People write wishes on narrow strips of colored paper and hang them, along with other paper ornaments, on bamboo branches, praying their wishes will come true.
A fun event for the whole family, Tanabata Time at Puna will be celebrated on Saturday, July 6, from 4 to 8 p.m. Among the activities taking place on the temple grounds will be taiko performances, Tanabata crafts; hachimaki, or headband making, and matsuri dancing. There will also be a craft fair in the social hall and a food concession booth. The traditional bon dance will follow the Hatsubon service.