Hazy Moon Zen Center

KOUN-JI TEMPLE

Los Angeles

Obon

Photo/essay by John Mujo Fritzlen

Obon is a traditional Japanese Buddhist observance which allows families to honor and feel closer to their loved ones who have died. It’s a time for sharing memories, prayers, rituals of food and drink, nourishment and generosity. Dia De Los Muertos is a traditional Mexican holiday with the same purpose. At the Hazy Moon Zen Center we have combined both in a way that is meaningful for us and our families and friends. The following photographs show the flow of our observance: creating the first altar, making a new one, rehearsing for the service of remembrance, and then the service itself.

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The observance begins about the middle of October when we set up a traditional Mexican family altar where members place photographs of those who have left this particular life, including our lineage of buddhist teachers.

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At the end of October the altar is then dismantled and a new one created in our zendo. This one is more traditionally Japanese – with food and drink offerings – but still contains photographs.

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Rehearsal for the ceremony – Obon-Segaki

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During the Obon-Segaki Service prayers are offered and the names of those who have died and being remembered are read aloud. The list is long.

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Through the years the faces in the photographs and the read aloud names become familiar.
It feels good to remember them.

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Photography: Copyright John Fritzlen
This article originally appeared at: http://johnfritzlen.tumblr.com/
John Fritzlen’s complete portfolio can be found at: http://www.johnfritzlen.com