Higan (彼岸, lit. "distant shore") is a Buddhist holiday exclusively celebrated by Japanese sects for seven days; three days before and after both the Spring equinox (shunbun) and Autumnal equinox (shūbun). It is observed by nearly every Buddhist school in Japan. The tradition extends from mild weather that occurs during the time of equinoxes, though the origin of the holiday dates from Emperor Shōmu in the 8th century.[1] People who normally worked in the fields had more leisure time to evaluate their own practices, and to make a renewed effort to follow Buddhism. The seasons beginning to change is a symbol that Buddhists should change their lives in order to reach enlightenment.[2] Today, special services are usually observed in Japanese Buddhist temples, and Japanese temples abroad, based on the particular Buddhist tradition or sect.

In Japan the red spider lily signals shūbun, the arrival of fall. Many Buddhists will use it to celebrate the arrival of fall with a ceremony at the tomb of one of their ancestors.

Origin edit

Higan is the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese translation of the Sanskrit term for "the Other Shore".[3] The cycle of death and rebirth (saṃsāra) is "this shore", and in Buddhism, crossing to the other shore is used to refer to the attainment of nirvana.[4]

Ancestral veneration edit

Similar to Obon, Japanese citizens will often return to their hometowns during the holiday season to pay respects to their ancestors. Ohigan is a public holiday, thus many businesses are closed.

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Middle Way & Higan Service, Nichiren Shu Beikoku Betsuin". Archived from the original on 7 August 2008. Retrieved 10 April 2009.
  2. ^ Penny, Sue (1995). Buddhism. Pearson Education. p. 37. ISBN 9780435304690.
  3. ^ The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Zen Buddhism. New York: Rosen Publishing. 2002. p. 129. ISBN 9780823922406.
  4. ^ Muller, Charles, ed. (2018). "彼岸". Digital Dictionary of Buddhism. Retrieved 20 December 2021.