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Buddhist Temple honors ancestors at Obon Festival

by JODI STREAHLE, THE DAILY JOURNAL, July 19, 2015

SEABROOK, WA (USA) -- Lauren Pucher of Upper Deerfield had a reason to dance this year at the 70th Annual Obon Dance Festival at the Seabrook Buddhist Temple on Saturday.

The festival has been a part of her life since childhood, and this year four generations of her family had the privilege to dance together.

Pucher performed Bon dances alongside her mother, her grandmother, and her five-year-old daughter, Lyla, who is just starting to catch on to the traditional movements.

“It makes me happy because we are carrying it on. It’s part of our culture and this is important to make sure it lives on,” Pucher said. “It’s part of her now.”

Each year, since the construction of the facility in 1945, the Buddhists of the Seabrook Buddhist Temple have celebrated Obon.

“Obon is a time to remember and honor our ancestors,” said Keiko Warner, secretary of the Seabrook Buddhist Temple board.

“It is a time to appreciate all that they have done for us and to recognize the continuation of their deeds upon our lives,” Warner said. “Obon is a time of self-reflection, an important Buddhist practice, for it is only when man becomes aware of his imperfections and insufficiency in contrast to his ideals that religion becomes a matter of personal concern.”

Warner said it’s also a time to celebrate. “It is truly a joyous occasion. This is a time when everybody participates. Folk dancing isn’t about doing it right; we encourage everybody to participate,” she said.

Bon folk dances were led by the Tachibana Dancers, the Ekoji Buddhist Temple Dancers and the Seabrook Minyo Dancers. Also, Hoh Daiko of the Seabrook Buddhist Temple, Nen Daiko of the Ekoji Buddhist Temple and Soh Daiko of New York Buddhist Church performed Taiko drumming.

The festival also included a Japanese Karate demonstration by Shotokan Karate Academy in Glassboro and a musical performance by Woodruff School Ace Music. The Meditation Garden at the Seabrook Buddhist Temple was also open during the festival.

The Obon memorial service was held on Sunday and included temple members visiting graves of family prior to the service.



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