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Bon Dance schedule released for 2024

LIHU‘E — For people who have been waiting — the people who paste the schedule on their refrigerators and those from the outer islands who plan their trips to Kaua‘i to coincide with a bon dance — the Kaua‘i Buddhist Council released its 2024 bon dance schedule.

Additionally, the calendar of bon dances serve as a guide for resorts and other community groups that offer bon dance as a fundraiser for their respective community giving programs, as well as for the enjoyment of resort guests and the community.

The first bon dance will be celebrated at the Waimea Higashi Hongwanji on June 7-8 with the bon dance starting around 7:30 p.m.

During pre-Covid tradition, the temple celebrating the final bon dance of the previous season celebrates the first bon festivities of the following season. This year, the Kaua‘i Buddhist Council welcomes six participating temples hosting their obon festivities on Aug. 2-3 when the Waimea Shingon Hongwanji wraps up the summer season.

According to Pearl Shimizu, of the Kaua‘i Japanese Cultural Society, bon dance practice for beginners have already begun. Weekly bon dance practice for those who want to freshen up their skills or learn new dances for this year’s season start on March 11 at 6 p.m. at the lawn of the Kapa‘a Hongwanji Mission.

Bon, or obon, in Hawai‘i stems from Japanese Buddhist celebrations. The tradition was brought over to Hawai‘i by the first Asian immigrants and adopted to become a part of Hawai‘i’s cultural tapestry when different communities gather to honor ancestors, enjoy traditional Japanese music and dance, and create memories from the various temples offering of food, many of which are unique to a hosting temple.

The bon dance, according to the Library of Congress, is a way of expressing gratitude to ancestors and loved ones no longer here. It is a way of reflecting on the preciousness and fragility of this life.

Bon dances nearly died out in the 1940s with the anti-Japanese fervor that swept through Hawai‘i. However, a post-World War II event hosted by four Japanese-American veterans’ groups spurred renewed interest when the groups hosted a bon dance to honor the war dead from Hawai‘i.

The bon dance revival was powered by tourism and the convergence of several island traditions, including interfaith services, interracial marriages, racial harmony and community bon dance clubs.

The original report to the Library of Congress by Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, Sen. Daniel K. Akaka, Sen. Neil Ambercrombie and Rep. Patsy T. Mink said the ceremony, and the practice of Buddhism itself, underwent significant change to adapt to the multicultural society of the islands.

Bon Dance 2024 Schedule

• June 7-8: Waimea Higashi Hongwanji

• June 14-15: no bon dance

• June 21-22: Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple, Hanapepe

• June 28-29: no bon dance

• July 5-6: no bon dance during the July 4 weekend

• July 12-13: West Kaua‘i Hongwanji

• July 19-20: Lihu‘e Hongwanji

• July 26-27: Kapa‘a Hongwanji

• August 2-3: Waimea Shingon
Source: The Garden Island

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