Saturday, August 15, 2009

Sights, sounds and smells

We live right opposite a huge cemetery. At the moment it is a real hive of activity. This is the time of the bon festival when many Japanese people gather as families to visit the graves of their deceased relatives. Our neighbourhood has become totally transformed. The sounds - bell ringing; the chants of the Buddhist priest; the ever-present crows waiting for a feast. The smell - burning incense constantly fills the air. The sights - families from babies to great-grandparents (and dogs too) cleaning the grave and paying their respects, even worshipping the spirits; each grave decorated with flowers, fruit offerings and even cans of beer! Buddhist priests wait around and recite the required sutras (for a fee of course!) Some believe that the spirits of the deceased return for a few days and there are special bon dances which take place in the evening. In these days of the bon festival, it reminds us how much there is the need for so many to hear of and receive new life, hope-filled life, eternal life in Jesus.

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