Festivals are Rituals for Regeneration and Revival

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The other day, I saw a NHK’s TV program entitled “Sunday Forum: Ise and the Japanese People.” As I had a thing to do, I could see only a part of it. But it was instructive.

  • the other day 先日
  • instructive ためになる

In the program, a scholar was answering the question “Why is Ise Grand Shrine rebuilt every twenty years?” As is often a common explanation, he said that twenty years was a reasonable period in terms of the succession of culture and technology and the alteration of generations.

  • scholar 学者
  • rebuild 立て直す
  • succession 継承
  • alteration 交代
  • generation 世代

But after that, he added something interesting. To put it simply, “To maintain the spiritual power of the holy spirit, twenty years is the limit. In more than twenty years, the power would decline and fade away. Therefore, we need to hold a big festival called Sengu(遷宮)every twenty years to resuscitate and regenerate or revive the holy spirit.”

  • maintain 維持する
  • limit 限界
  • decline 衰える
  • fade away 消える
  • therefore したがって
  • resuscitate カツを入れる
  • regenerate 再生する
  • revive 復活させる

I was both surprised and glad to hear this because he said the spiritually right thing from a scholar’s point of view. According to s study in ancient writings of religious services of Ise Grand Shrine, a lot of rituals and festivals held there seem to have been held on the ground that the holy spirit repeats life and death just like the sun rises and sets.

  • glad 嬉しい
  • point of view 観点
  • according to A Aによると
  • ritual 儀式
  • ground 根拠

Various festivals are held at shrines and temples all over Japan every year, in which people carry omikoshi, a portable shrine,  in a parade. Some are furious and valiant festivals that participants go naked or have a fight with each other. People, with Inner God inside them, get together at a festival, have fun and get wildly excited.

  • furious 激しい
  • valiant 勇壮な
  • participant 参加者
  • go naked 裸になる

I sometimes see that some spiritual magnetism which represents life energy of a lot of people is gathering into the portable shrine carried by an enthusiastic crowd and is getting big like a ball. At the end of the festival, the portable shrine is put back in the main building of the shrine and so is this ball of energy.

  • magnetism 磁気
  • enthusiastic 熱狂的な

The ball gets smaller during the course of a year as people pray for something and when the festival starts again, the ball revives. Therefore, if shinto rituals such as festivals fall into desuetude, the holy spirit as well as shrine and temples will be gone.

  • fall uno desuetude 廃れる
  • be gone いなくなる

Sengu of Ise Grand Shrine is the huge festival that it takes twenty years to prepare. Starting to make gifts presented to the holy spirit many years before the festival is the start of the shinto ritual creating spiritual magnetism.

  • prepare 準備する

Exchanging water in a small, white container put in front of a household shinto alter and offering three incense sticks toward it, which are done every morning at home, are also a deed creating spiritual magnetism and it regenerates and revives the holy spirit and ancestral spirits everyday. People who do this, affected by the reflection, regenerate themselves everyday.

  • household 家庭用の
  • shinto alter 神棚
  • incense stick 線香
  • deed 行為
  • reflection 反射

生かして頂いて ありがとう御座位ます

I Ka Shi Te I Ta Da I Te    A Ri Ga To U Go Za I Ma Su

Thank you so much for keeping us alive.

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