SALT LAKE CITY — The smell of
incense filled the air as family members came up one by one to honor
the Buddha and pay respects to their deceased ancestors.
took a pinch of incense, fed it into an incense burner and bowed to
Amida Buddha before one family member placed a tealight candle in
front of a placard bearing their loved one's name that sat on a
table near the front of the room. (Picture" Reverend Jerry Hirano)
Thirteen names sat placed
behind the candles in the hondo, or chapel, that was filled to
capacity with members of the Sangha or their family and friends.
"Those people that we love
are not gone. They are a part of each of us and continue to hope and
encourage that we have a good life," said Salt Lake Buddhist Temple
Rev. Jerry Hirano in his remarks to those gathered for the Hatsubon
service Sunday at the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple, 211 W. 100 South.
The Hatsubon, or first Obon,
is memorial service for families of those in the Sangha who died
over the past year. It is part of the Japanese Obon festival, held
Saturday near the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple. Saturday's events
included food, vendors and traditional dances.
For the Japanese, the Obon
holiday is similar to Americans' Memorial Day. People go to their
hometowns and often visit graves as part of the holiday.
Obon comes from the Ullumbana
Sutra given by the Amida Buddha to one of his disciples,
Maudgalyayana, or Mokuren, who was grieved upon discovering that his
mother had gone to what Buddhists call the realm of hungry ghosts.
The Amida Buddha told the
disciple to perform selfless acts, or dana, to redeem his mother's
Hirano interpreted the
disciple's vision of his deceased mother to be a reflection of the
guilt he felt for not doing more for his mother when she was alive.
By doing service for others, he was able to lift that guilt. Hirano
encouraged those gathered to remember that their loved ones would
have wanted them to be happy.
"When I think of all these
people who have died, nobody here would say, 'Don't have a good
life. I want you to feel pangs of guilt because you didn't do enough
for me when I was alive.' I think everybody here would want to tell
you, 'Have a good life.'"
Rev. Hirano explained that
the festival celebrates the interconnectedness of families. He
encouraged those gathered "to enjoy whatever time you have in this
life you have to be able to realize how you are connected to