July 2nd, 2020

Bon Odori honours lost loved ones

By Bobinec, Greg on July 22, 2019.

Herald photo by Greg Bobinec
Taiko Drummers keep the rhythm going for the dancers during the traditional Bon Odori, a dance to remember those who have passed away, at the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta, Saturday evening. @GBobinecHerald

Greg Bobinec

Lethbridge Herald


The 17th annual Bon Odori Dance Festival in Galt Gardens this year was rained out, but the celebrations carried on in the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta to keep the tradition of celebrating and honouring those who have passed on.

During the festivities, the Bon Odori dance took place – a dance of joy and a time to remember those who have passed. The traditional dances allow people to show their appreciation for all that those who have passed have done for them. Obon is also a time for self-reflection which reminds people to practise selfless giving to all beings.

“This is our Obon Odori, it is an annual festival that we have and it is associated with the Obon Service on Sunday,” says Roland Ikuta, president of the Buddhist Temple of Southern Alberta. “The service is very important for Buddhists and it is a memorial service to recognize all of the people that have passed away before us, so our ancestors, people from our family just to remember them.”

In Japan, the Bon Odori festival is held all over the country at different times throughout the year, when the temple decides to have it, and is filled with hope, positivity, and celebration, along with lots of food. This year at the festival, many vendors and food options were available, along with activities for the family to learn about Japanese culture.

“In Galt Gardens this would be our 17th year, but before we only had it at the temple,” says Ikuta. “Many of the temples joined together and we thought that was a good opportunity to hold it in a public venue and the Galt Gardens has served us really well. We have had it at the Japanese Gardens a couple of times. We typically have lots of food booths and vendors selling things, so it really does become a big festival in Japan and lots of people from the community like to come. It is a really fun atmosphere and good food and an opportunity to get together.”

Throughout Saturday evening, dozens of people danced the night away to celebrate those loved ones who have passed on, and to honour everything that they did for them, along with everything they did for the community.

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