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Santa Maria


Santa Maria/Guadalupe Obon Festival



The annual Obon (O-BOHN) Festival will be celebrated at the Veteran’s Memorial Cultural Center on Sunday, July 19th, 313 W Tunnel St in Santa Maria. The festival is presented by the Guadalupe Buddhist Church.

The rich cultural celebration will be held from noon until 5 pm. The festival is open and free to the public. Adults and children can expect to enjoy a variety of food and entertainment. The free festival offers an experience complete with traditional dance, food, music, and demonstrations. Bonsai, Taiko Drums, Martial Arts and Crafts will be some of the day’s events. One of the main attractions is the Bon Odori. The dance is a tradition to the festival, with dancers clad in kimonos, or yutaka, and Happi coats. Everyone will be dancing to the graceful rhythm of the taiko drums.

The festival will end with a raffle drawing for cash and many other items. 1st prize is $1,500, 2nd prize is $500, 3rd prize is $300; there are six 4th prizes at $100. Other raffle items include gift certificates to restaurants, hardware and retail stores, car care, and more. Tickets for the raffle may be purchased at the festival and you need not be present to win. Teriyaki chicken dinner, sushi, beef sticks (kushiyaki), udon, won ton and strawberry shortcake are among the foods available for purchase. Come early, food for purchase is limited!

The Obon Festival can be traced to a Buddhist sutra that tells the story of Mogallana, a disciple of Budda who, in meditation, saw his deceased mother suffering in the realm of hungry ghosts. He tried giving her food but it turned into flames. Buddha advised him to engage in a “jishi”, or retreat, and make an offering for his fellow monks. This done, he saw his mother released from suffering and he danced for joy. Varying interpretations evolved over the years, including the belief that spirits of ancestors actually revisit this world. Pine torches are attached to bamboo to welcome spirits to the family home, and on the final day of the observance, spirits are said to return to the nether world, guided by candle-lit lanterns that are set adrift on water.
Obon remains one of the most important Buddhist observances. The typical Obon is a blend of somber reflection and celebration of those before us.

Adults and children…come, enjoy and be happy!
Questions? Contact Terri at [email protected]