Shinnyo-en Celebrates the Ullambana Festival

July 13 - 16, 2013
Shinnyo Ogen Center, Tokyo and Shinnyo temples and centers throughout the world

Like at Thanksgiving Day in the United States, Ullambana is a family reunion and feasting holiday. For Ullambana, children and their families assemble decorations of little horse figures made of cucumbers (symbolizing a swift and welcoming remembrance of the ancestors) and eggplant cows (symbolizing a safe and slow good-bye - until next year - of the family's ancestors' spirits).

The holiday concluded this year with traditional lantern floatings or with the burning of stems of hemp outside the home or temple.

At the Shinnyo-en Ullambana service at the Ogen Center in Tokyo on July 15th, Her Holiness Shinso Ito, Head Priest of Shinnyo-en, recalled to memory Shinnyo members' ancestors as well as all those who have died in natural disasters and war. Ancient traditional offerings of food and water were placed on the altar, expressing a warm welcome and a spirit of sharing with others the blessings received.

The Ullambana Festival is reported to have been first celebrated in Japan in 606 C.E. by the Empress Suiko, Japan's first female monarch (whose nephew, Prince Shotoku, her regent, created the first constitution for Japan and supported the widespread acceptance of Buddhism in the country).