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Buddhists to mark new year with rituals


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POSTED: Saturday, December 26, 2009

The new year will be greeted with quiet spiritual rituals in Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines Thursday night.

Buddhists will strike temple bells 108 times at midnight in a rite of reflection about leaving the bad behind and moving forward with hope for the future.

“;Ringing the bell is a symbolic eradication of negative karma one has accumulated during the past year,”; said Bishop Shugen Komogata, of Soto Mission of Hawaii. “;We let go of the negative things as the sound of the bell disappears.”;

The Rev. Yubun Narashiba of Jodo Mission of Hawaii said the bell strikes are counted because the tolling “;signifies the dispelling of 108 evil passions which all human beings have. According to Buddhism we have 108 different kinds of evil thoughts in our minds. While the temple bell is rung, we pray to dispel our evil passions and thoughts,”; said Narashiba. “;The New Year's Eve service gives us a good opportunity to meditate and reflect on our life on this last day of the year. It is also a time to express our gratitude for every blessing we have received in our lives.”;

Several Buddhist temples will hold services. Many temples remain open throughout New Year's Day for families to observe the tradition remembering deceased relatives and making an offering at temple altars.

Shinto shrines, where the ancient indigenous religion of Japan is practiced, draw thousands of people, no matter what their religion. People buy amulets, known as “;omamori,”; believed to ward off misfortune and bring good luck in the coming year. “;They are many kinds, for the family, the business, the house, the automobile,”; said the Rev. Akihiro Okada, of Daijingu Temple of Hawaii.

» Daijingu Temple, 61 Puiwa Road, 595-3102. The New Year's Eve purification service will begin at 11 p.m. Thursday. The first blessing service will be at 7 a.m. New Year's Day. The shrine will be open all day until evening for people seeking blessings and amulets. The Gagaku Society of Hawaii will perform traditional Japanese court music at 3 p.m. Friday.

» Izumo Taishakyo Mission of Hawaii, 215 N. Kukui St., 538-7778. Ministers will give New Year blessings beginning at midnight Thursday until 5 p.m. Friday. The shrine will be open for blessings and the sale of “;ofuda”; and omamori from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. next Saturday and Jan. 3.

» Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu, 1239 Olomea St., 841-4155. The Shishimai Lion Dance will be performed to exorcise spirits and invite good luck from midnight to 2 a.m. New Year's Eve and from 10 a.m. to noon Friday. Complimentary “;ozoni mochi”; soup will be served.

» Jodo Mission of Hawaii, 1429 Makiki St., 949-3995. The Joya-e Service will begin at 11:30 p.m. Thursday. The Shusho-e, New Year's Day, service will be at 10 a.m. Friday.

» Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii, 1727 Pali Highway, 536-7044. The New Year's Eve service will begin at 11 p.m., and New Year's Day service is at 10 a.m. The temple will be open for visits throughout the day Friday.

» Soto Mission of Hawaii, 1708 Nuuanu Ave., 537-9409. People attending the New Year's Eve service will participate in ringing the bell 108 times, starting at 11:45 p.m. Thursday. Daihannya, a formal blessing service, will be held at 10:30 a.m. Jan. 3.

» Shingon Shu Hawaii Mission, 915 Sheridan St., 941-5663. The Year of the Tiger will be welcomed in at a service beginning at 11:30 p.m. Thursday.