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Halloween Traditions



Halloween Around the World
Halloween in Japan

    In Japan O-Bon festival celebrates the memory of the dead relatives. Food and water is placed in front of photos of the dead. Bonfires and lanterns light the spirits' path back to earth.

    O-Bon celebrated by some people from July 13-15 and others from August 13-15, O-Bon gets its name from the Sanskrit word for "to hang upside down." It refers to a legend about a Buddhist monk who, deep in meditation, was able to "see" his long-dead mother hanging upside down in the Buddhist equivalent of hell. This was her punishment for having eaten meat during her lifetime - a Buddhist taboo - and refusing to repent of it. The monk was holy enough to go to hell and buy his mother's passage to Nirvana with some of his own excess goodness.

    On the first day of O-Bon, people decorate their loved ones' graves with fruit, cakes, and lanterns. On the second day, spirit altars or as they are referred to tamadana, are assembled at home: Atop a woven rush mat stand the ancestors' memorial plaques, tempting vegetarian dishes, and cucumbers carved to represent horses on which the spirits are invited to ride. On the third day, whole communities gather for the bon-odori, a hypnotic, slow dance that moves in concentric circles or multiple lines. Hundreds of people often dance together. As evening falls, tiny paper lanterns are set adrift on river or sea: these omiyage gently light the spirits way back to the "other shore".

    Buddhist Japanese remember their dead at the time in autumn of equal days and nights. The festival that is celebrated is called Higan. It is a time when people visit the graves of friends and family who are dead. They tidy up the area and think about the dead people.



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