Obon Festival Continues Tradition In Visalia

July 17, 2009

Author: Brett Wilkison

Source: The Buddhist Channel/Visalia Times Delta


More than 2,000 years ago, in what is now India, the Buddha gathered his followers and told them to celebrate their ancestors. According to Buddhist lore, the monks kept to their solemn rituals, while the civilians danced.

Now, two millenniums later on a different continent, the Obon festival, or "gathering of joy" that was popularized in Japan and includes a mix of East Asian culture and folklore, has taken root in the Central Valley.

July features a string of weekend festivals, from Fresno and Fowler to Parlier and Reedley. Visalia's event, now in its 28th consecutive year, takes place Sunday night at the Visalia Buddhist Church.

Like the other local gatherings, the night will include a solemn ceremony remembering loved ones lost, outdoor processional dances underneath colorful globe lanterns and performances by traditional taiko drummers.