Dancing for the dead is not macabre.
Dancing for the dead, we celebrate continuity, community, and life itself.
In Japan, Obon is a traditional celebration in which the ancestors are remembered and honored. Family altars are cleaned and special offerings are placed in front of photos of the departed. Those living in far away cities return to their hometowns and to their families. Indeed, it is said that our ancestors too, return to our homes during Obon. For the living, there are gatherings at local festivals with music, folk dances, and stalls selling food and games. Bon-odori, folk dances performed during Obon, are usually done in a circle and the movements are simple and repetitive so that everyone can enjoy dancing together. In the commemoration of “the dead”, we join together as a community and culture—vibrant and sustained.
The stars do not cease to exist during the day simply because we cannot see them. Likewise, the souls of those who have come before us do not suddenly cease to exist at the end of their days. Rather, death is like night—a passage of time between skies full of light. And like the stars, our ancestors dance among us.
do not be afraid do not be afraid in the quiet blanket of nighttime do not be afraid dreams come alive and love shines in candlelit cascades of whispers and caresses it is darkness which makes the stars visible guiding us home unveiled and holy do not be afraid to cross deserts windswept wildflower fields seas and mountain rains the open blue of day welcomes you warm outstretched and just around golden pink corners
(photo taken six years ago at an Obon festival)