July in Hawaii means Obon Season... part solemn buddhist ceremony honoring ancestors, part festival with plenty of smiling family faces, food and dancing. Every Jodo shrine in Hawaii hosts an evening or two of ceremony and dancing under the stars. I make it a point of attending the one held in Lahaina each summer.The Lahaina Jodo Mission also hosts the island's only floating lantern ceremony, a highlight of the event for me.
This year, running in to a writer friend I see there each year, she asked my why I am always there? Assuming her question was put forth because I don't practice the buddhist faith, I responded "because it's beautiful!". There are other reasons, of course, which bring me back year after year. Having lived in Lahaina for many years previously, it's also a chance to catch up briefly with old friends ( inevitably, I am greeted by many of the aunties with a hearty " Haole Boy!I nevah see you long time..."), enjoy some excellent local foods prepared by the ladies of the temple and a handful of local restauranteurs. Then there is the dancing... joyful, colorful and welcoming... seasoned dancers invite novices into the circle and demonstrate the steps... all are welcome.
This years festivities in pictures (click on photos for a larger view):