According to Japanese Buddhist belief, every summer at this time spirits of the dead return to visit their families. O-Bon is a Buddhist ceremony for welcoming back and appeasing the souls of our ancestors.
During the course of this festival, the souls of the dead are guided home, feted for several days, and then sent back to the spirit world.
The formal name of this festival is Ura-Bon, and generally falls on Aug 13 thru Aug 15. Depending on the region, however, the Bon Festival may be held one month earlier, or July 13th-15th.
The word O-Bon has its roots in the Sanskrit word ullambana, which means ‘deliverance from suffering’. The festival combines early Buddhist rituals designed to rescue the souls of the dead from hell, with native Japanese agricultural rites and the Shinto tradition of welcoming back the souls of ancestors in late summer.
Traditionally, the bones of the deceased are placed in individual urns and kept with their ancestors in a family tomb (ohaka). For several consecutive evenings during the week of O-Bon, paper lanterns painted with the family crest are hung to guide the ancestral spirits to the ohaka.
Alternatively, small welcoming fires (mukaebi) may be lit at the entrance to the home, or in front of the gate early on the evening of the 13th to receive the souls of the ancestors.
It is also customary at this time to clean the family grave and present fresh flowers and incense. Those who are unable to travel to their family burial place may instead spruce up the domestic altar. Houses are cleaned and decorated and a place is sometimes set at the family table for the recently departed.
Although many Japanese also hold Shinto beliefs, it is Buddhism that is associated with rituals concerned with death. Therefore it is the Buddhist household altar — the butsudan — that remains the focus of attention during O-Bon.
Offering stands and a small tray with tiny dishes for the symbolic meals offered to the ancestors are brought out, and a special shelf (Shoryodana or ‘Shelf of Souls’) is set up in front of the altar; it is here that, for the duration of O-Bon, the spirits are believed to dwell.
At the end of three days (on the 16th), the lanterns are again set out to guide the spirits back, and an okuribi (farewell) fire is lit to see off the souls of the ancestors.
Collected from various sources including Mythic Maps
The Festival of the Tooth – An extended and lavish holiday which commemorates a holy relic of Buddha, his eye tooth.
Kandy is a beautiful city in Sri Lanka. On a small hill is a great temple which was especially built to house a relic of the Buddha – his tooth. The tooth can never be seen, as it is kept deep inside may caskets. But once a year in August, on the night of the full moon, there is a special procession for it. But other festivities occur on ten days leading to that final day.
The dates of the festival vary from year to year. In 2017, the festival runs from July 29 thru August 8th. The Festival begins with the cutting of a sanctified young jack tree. Branches of the tree are then planted near the shrines of the four guardian gods Natha (a Buddhist savior), Vishnu (for safeguarding Buddhism in Sri Lanka), Kataragama (protector of the south) and the goddess Pattini (goddess of health and fertility). Traditionally, this was a ritual performed to ask the gods for blessings on the King and the people.
For the next five nights, festive dancing and drumming are held outside each of the temples. On the sixth night of the festival, processions begin from each shrine and parade toward the Temple of the Tooth. The processions get longer and more magnificent for the next three nights.
The highlight is on the last night of the processions: an enormous elephant carries a gold casket containing a replica of the Tooth Relic as the drummers and dancers enthrall the crowd along the route. The drummers and dancers themselves are followed by elephants and other groups of musicians, dancers and flag bearers.
After nights of processions, a water cutting ceremony brings the festival to an end at dawn, when priests representing each of the four temples walk into the Mahaweli River, “cut” a circle in the water with a sword and fill pitchers with water from within the circle. The water is kept till the next year’s Esala Perahera, when the pitcher will be freshly filled again.
The next day, Kandyan chieftains in ancient regalia, march to the Presidential mansion in Kandy, following royal tradition, to report to the Head of State, the successful completion of the annual event.
The story behind the tooth is as follows:
It was believed that if the Bodhi Tree that came into contact with the Buddha had the power to bring rains, then the parts of His own body had much greater power to invite rains. With this in mind, the sacred tooth relic was brought all the way from Kalinga in India to the island of Sri Lanka in the fourth century AD. At the time, the sacred tooth relic was brought to Sri Lanka, the king was Sri Megha varna. His name itself meant ‘the Resplendent one whose complexion is that of the Rain-cloud’.
The time when the sacred tooth was brought to Sri Lanka was around six centuries after the sapling of the sacred Bodhi Tree was brought into the island country. However, very soon, the popularity of the sacred tooth surpassed that of the Bodhi Tree. The simple reason for this was that it could be moved any number of times from one place to another, very unlike the Bodhi Tree itself. Also, the possesion of the tooth relic soon became a matter of power and claim to rule the land. The king who had possession of the tooth relic had the authority to rule the land and, wars were fought to keep the relic from falling into hostile hands.
This is amply manifested in the attempt made by the kings when the Europeans enhanced their power in the island country. King Senarath quickly transported the relic a little distance away from Kandy when the Portuguese came to close for his comfort. Later, the significance of the tooth relic became known to the Europeans themselves. They wasted no time and made it their primary goal to get hold of the precious relic. The British succeeded in 1818, and the people themselves gave up all efforts to prevent the former from ruling them, all because the British possessed the tooth relic.
Historically, a number of festivals were celebrated to honor the sacred tooth relic right from time it came to Sri Lanka. Initially, processions or peraheras were taken out for the tooth relic alone. However, later, the festival was incorporated with another festival meant to appease the rain god, the Esala peraheras. At this time, a Kandyan king, Kirti Shri Rajasinghe was in power and he made it possible for the common people to worship the relic by announcing that it would be taken out in a procession for the masses to see and offer their prayers. Before this, the tooth relic was the property of the king and the common people were not allowed to worship it.
Source: Wikipedia and My Odyssey Tours
Today, July 25, is a Day Out of Time. This is the last day of the galactic year in the Mayan and Galactic calendar.
Here’s the math:
13 moons of 28 days = 364 days.
The extra day, the 365th day, is July 25.
This is why it is called “Day Out Of Time”
This is a special day for ritual, meditation and prayer.
Source: Souled Out
July 24, Pioneer Day commemorates the day in 1847 when Brigham Young led his “pioneer band” of Mormons into the Salt Lake valley to establish a settlement–their new Zion. The Mormons had been driven from New York, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois and had spent four difficult months traveling 1,073 miles overland to reach the Great Basin, chosen by Young because of its remoteness.
It was the most organized and disciplined westward migration in American history, and unlike most emigrants intent on their destination, the Mormon pioneers were equally concerned with improving the trail for those who would follow.
Pioneer Day is celebrated as the second most important date in the Mormon calendar, behind April 6, the day Joseph Smith established the church. Parades, fireworks, rodeos, and other festivities help commemorate the event.
St. Swithin was a beloved ninth-century bishop of Winchester, England, who requested that he be buried in the churchyard–some say to be close to the common people, whom he loved; some say so that he could enjoy God’s gift of rain for all eternity. When he died in 862, his request was honored.
About 100 years later, however, it was deemed unseemly that so holy a man should rest in a common grave. On July 15, the saint’s feast day, the people attempted to enshrine his remains in his church.
Legend has it, however, that St. Swithin caused torrential rains to fall for 40 days, until the intended transfer was abandoned. This is the source of a very old Scottish weather proverb regarding rain on July 15:
“St. Swithin’s Day if thou dost rain,
For forty days it will remain.”
Boryeong, South Korea: The mud trucked in to Daecheon Beach for the festival is said to have cosmetic effects, but that isn’t why 2 million or so ex-pats, locals and tourists muck it up, slathering themselves in mud while slinging beer and soju in Ziploc bags. It’s just down-and-dirty fun. There’s also mud-skiing, a mud king contest, as well as fireworks at night. Tip: take a dip before you leave.
About This Festival
Getting dirty has never been so much fun. Beauty product for some, excuse to channel their inner child for others, Boryeong Mud means many things to many people. This filthy festival involves wrestling, sliding, massages, and photo contests. The dates vary from year to year. In 2016, it was held July 16 thru July 24.
A Dirty Marketing Idea is Born
The idea for the festival began in 1998 as a promotion for the mineral-rich mud found near Boryeong, South Korea. When the manufacturers of Boryeong Mud products determined the beneficial effects of their local mud, they invited visitors to slather themselves in the stuff. The event took on a life of its own rather quickly, attracting thousands of visitors to this otherwise sleepy town annually for the beach, the warm weather, and, of course, the mud.
Things Get Dirty Fast
Fueled by word of mouth, good times and exceptional photographs of mud people, the festival has become an international phenomenon. Families picnic under beach umbrellas, toddlers splash in the kid-friendly area, and the under-30 crowd (generally traveling English teachers, members of the military, and students) are the front-and-center partiers inside an inflatable mud wonderland. Festival-goers have their pick of competitive activities like the Mr. Mud contest, mud wrestling, mud races and even a mud boot camp. Those looking for a more laid back experience can opt for mud facials, body painting, pottery demos, soap-making and lounging on Daecheon Beach.
There’s no need to worry about getting all this gooey grey mud out of your hair, either: showers are abundant and available for a modest fee, as are lockers that can be used to store a fresh and clean outfit. Rinsing off in the ocean is also an option, albeit a less effective one if you plan to impress after your mudbath. Finally, after you’ve wallowed in Boryeong’s thick gray ooze, you can pick up some of the local beauty products, including mudpacks, mud shampoo, mud soap, mud sunblock – remember, this was the original intention of this festival!
More Than Just Mud
Although the main attraction is, of course, the mud, Boryeong features an impressive entertainment lineup as well. Pop and hip-hop performers from around the world affirm its status as an international event, providing an eclectic soundtrack to the wet and wild madness. Don’t miss the huge global rave on the evening of the closing ceremonies, or Friday’s Korean b-boy show. Keep your eye out for opening and closing night fireworks, as well as parades and other cultural performances during the week.
In the end, the thing that sets Boryeong apart is the mud play. The spirit of conviviality across cultures and ages is a function of the anonymity everyone experiences while covered in mud. As Jae-Sang Lee, Director of Korea Tourism Organization, says, “The most distinctive point of the Festival is to create a united place where people from all over the world come together, meet and interact with strangers and are able to break down walls of age, nationality, race and have fun together and leave with memories and new friends.” All are one under the mud.
Knut the Reaper is possibly the original Grim Reaper, complete with the appearance of a skeleton clad in dark flowing robes wielding a scythe. In Norse mythology he enjoys commemoration on July 10 with the goddesses (Hel or Hela, Holda and Skadi) of the shades and underworlds Helheim and Niflheim.
Traditional processions of huge effigies of giants, animals or dragons encompass an original ensemble of festive popular manifestations and ritual representations. These effigies first appeared in urban religious processions at the end of the fourteenth century in many European towns and continue to serve as emblems of identity for certain Belgian (Ath, Brussels, Dendermonde, Mechelen and Mons) and French towns (Cassel, Douai, Pézenas and Tarascon), where they remain living traditions.
The giants and dragons are large-scale models measuring up to nine metres in height and weighing as much as 350 kilos. They represent mythical heroes or animals, contemporary local figures, historical, biblical or legendary characters or trades. St. George fighting the dragon is staged in Mons; Bayard, the horse from the Charlemagne legend, parades in Dendermonde; and Reuze Papa and Reuze Maman, popular family characters, parade at Cassel.
The performances, often mixing secular procession and religious ceremony, vary from town to town, but always follow a precise ritual in which the giants relate to the history, legend or life of the town.
July 10th is Lady Godiva Day. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the story – but here it is again:
The Countess Godiva devoutly anxious to free the city of Coventry from a grievous and base thralldom often besought the Count, her husband, that he would for love of the Holy Trinity and the sacred Mother of God liberate it from such servitude. But he rebuked her for vainly demanding a thing so injurious to himself and forbade her to move further therin.
Yet she, out of her womanly pertinacity, continued to press the matter insomuch that she obtained this answer from him: “Ascend,” he said, “thy horse naked and pass thus through the city from one end to the other in sight of the people and on thy return thou shalt obtain thy request.”
Upon which she returned: “And should I be willing to do this, wilt thou give me leave?”
“I will,” he responded.
Then the Countess Godiva, beloved of God, ascended her horse, naked, loosing her long hair which clothed her entire body except her snow white legs, and having performed the journey, seen by none, returned with joy to her husband who, regarding it as a miracle, thereupon granted Coventry a Charter, confirming it with his seal.
From the Flores Historiarum by Roger of Wendover
Celebrated by the residents of Nunavut, Canada, on July 9 each year, Nunavut is a time to honor the efforts of those who helped to bring this territory into being. For many years, the Inuit had worked toward forming their own territory. On July 9, 1993, the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement Act took effect, and Nunavut was established on April 1, 1999. Nunavut Day was declared an official government holiday in 2001.
The day is traditionally celebrated with live music, barbecues, the wearing of traditional dress, traditional foods are served, and the community sponsors activities such as concerts, craft fairs, and contests, including seal skinning and duck plucking.