The Bon Dance at Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple in Hanapepe. Photo by Brian Howell

The Bon Dance at Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple in Hanapepe. Photo by Brian Howell

The summer Bon season has been a part of the island calendar, it seems, forever.

During the months of June, July and August, the nine Buddhist temples on Kaua‘i showcase a colorful folk festival of cultural and religious significance that has evolved in Hawai‘i for more than five generations.

It is said that during Bon, the spirits of the deceased return home to visit their families. Offerings of food are placed on family altars and gravesites. Lanterns called chochins, or small bonfires, light the way so the spirits can find their way home. At the festival, the spirits also join in the dance. When it is time to leave, the spirits are sent off with another bonfire. In some places, small lanterns are released down river or into the sea. It is a joyous time when the spirit of life is celebrated.

Hence, Bon is a time to honor and to extend our deep gratitude to departed loved ones and ancestors. It is also a time to relfect upon our journey in life and to appreciate the people who are part of that journey.

During this time, it is traditional to offer memorial dedications to departed loved ones, fill our thought s with remembrances, and in turn fill our hearts with joy. We express gratitude for the many blessings bestowed on us by those who came before.

This is a universal themed and is the spirit of Bon.

2015 Bon Dance Schedule

Waimea Shingon Mission — June 5, 6

Kapa‘a Jodo Mission — June 12, 13

West Kaua‘i Hongwanji (Waimea) — June 19, 20

Kapa‘a Hongwanji Mission — June 26, 27

Waimea Higashi Hongwanji — July 10, 11

Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple — July 17, 18

Koloa Jodo Mission — July 24, 25

West Kaua‘i Hongwanji (Hanapepe) — July 31, Aug. 1

Lihu‘e Hongwanji Mission — Aug. 7, 8