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  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - An ema with a wish
    Ikuta Jinja - An ema with a wish

    This ema reads, "May Bun-chan's leg [or foot] heal quickly and may he graduate without any difficulty." Imprinted on the ema to the left is a place for the name and address of the petitioner, which is given in full. The petitioner's name is female; presumably this is a mother praying for her son.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Woman praying before main shrine hall
    Ikuta Jinja - Woman praying before main shrine hall

    After clapping her hands, ringing the bell and bowing up closer to the hall, in the traditional manner, this young woman backed up several steps and stood with her head bowed for many minutes while facing the shrine.

  • Thumbnail for Pouring water on Jizo statue
    Pouring water on Jizo statue

    Near the end of the path to Okunoin, just prior to crossing the last bridge before going up to Kukai's mausoleum, there is a line of statues with water troughs in front of them. Vistors pour water over the statues as an act of devotion. This ritual action shares something both with the cleansing of the mouth prior to entering a Shinto shrine, where the same sort of ladle and trough is used, as well as the cleansing of ancestral gravestones that is practiced in August during the Obon season.

  • Thumbnail for Religion in public
    Religion in public

    People leave offerings for the spirits during the Hungry Ghost Festival along public sidewalks.

  • Thumbnail for Table settings
    Table settings

    This table outside is set with food for spirits.

  • Thumbnail for Honoring spirits in public places
    Honoring spirits in public places

    The spirits can visit this shopping center to obtain offerings.

  • Thumbnail for Feast for the spirits
    Feast for the spirits

    Fruit, food and drink are all placed on a table for spirits.

  • Thumbnail for Muroji, 034, Hall for Memorial Tablets, interior
    Muroji, 034, Hall for Memorial Tablets, interior

    This image shows the interior of the Hall for Memorial Tablets, the Hall of Eternal Light, at Muroji, built in the early 20th century. A monthly memorial service for Kukai is held here and memorial services for residents of the local village are celebrated here. -- The different traditions of Buddhism, such as esoteric Buddhism or Pure Land, as well as different schools, such as Tendai and Shingon, sometimes employ differing ritual objects in their ceremonies, objects that have grown out of differing historic traditions, some based in very ancient Indian rituals, some in Tibetan Buddhism, etc. Nonetheless, in this image we can see ritual objects that are common across various schools. These include, most basically, before the altar, an incense burner, candlesticks, and flower vases, objects found before any Buddhist altar, including home altars. Other objects seen here and common across traditions include the "bell" on the right, struck to announce the opening of services, the square area for the celebrants defined by the low railing, the canopies (often stylized lotus blossoms constructed of wood or metal) or banners over altars and images, small square tables flanking the cushion of the celebrant, tables used to hold ritual objects or offerings, a low table directly in front of the celebrant that may hold offerings and serve as sutra lectern. To the right here we see part of the rim of a taiko, a large, powerful drum, one of a variety of musical instruments often employed in ceremonies.

  • Thumbnail for Qawwali at the Dargah, evening performance
    Qawwali at the Dargah, evening performance

    The senior singer, Taj Muhammad, prepares for an evening qawwali in the inner courtyard of the dargah. Men of the town join him to sing or to listen to the captivating melodies. In Khuldabad, qawwali performance is an almost exclusively male affair. Men sing and play the instruments, while others listen and offer money to the musicians. Small boys hang around the dargah during qawwalis, as well as at other times, to run errands or sit quietly and listen. Here, several foreign females also sit in the audience.

  • Thumbnail for Bibi ki Maqbara, entrance sign
    Bibi ki Maqbara, entrance sign

    At the entrance to the shrine, visitors are instructed to remove their shoes and sandals (chapples). The sign in English and Hindi indicates that while you are expected to remove your footwear at this shrine, the shrine takes no responsibility for their care. In other words, perhaps you might want to pay the man at the entrance to watch them for you. It's interesting that the sign is only in English and Hindi, not in Urdu or Marathi.

  • Thumbnail for Aurangzeb Mosque, ritual ablutions before prayer
    Aurangzeb Mosque, ritual ablutions before prayer

    Before praying, all Muslim worshippers must purify themselves by performing ritual ablutions. Mosques provide fountains or individual water spigots so that each person can carry out this ritual cleansing.

  • Thumbnail for Qawwali singers, Khuldabad
    Qawwali singers, Khuldabad

    These local men rolled out a white canvas cloth to create a pure space on this verandah on a cool afternoon in January to sing a qawwali concert for several guests. Qawwali songs inspire listeners to remember the life of the Prophet Muhammad, the lives of early saints of the Chishti order like Nizamuddin Awliya, and the Deccani saints, Zar Zari Zar Baksh and his brother Burhan ud-din, both discisiples of Nizzamuddin Awliya.

  • Thumbnail for Bhajan singing 3
    Bhajan singing 3

    As noted in Bhajan singing 1 and 2, the warmly dressed singers from the Rama Temple are singing songs of praise to Vaishnava deities. Women and men sing together in these groups.

  • Thumbnail for Zar Zari Zar Baksh Dargah, bangles as symbols of pilgrims' petitions
    Zar Zari Zar Baksh Dargah, bangles as symbols of pilgrims' petitions

    At the Tomb Shrine of the mother of Zar Zari Zar Baksh, women tie glass bangles over the door lintel into the shrine room as symbols of their petitions.

  • Thumbnail for Yasaka Shrine Celebration
    Yasaka Shrine Celebration

    A celebration at Yasaka Shrine includes monks ringing an enormous bronze bell.

  • Thumbnail for Stacking rocks
    Stacking rocks

    By stacking a rock on an already made pile, the stacker makes a wish. To accidentally knock over the pile is slightly worse than breaking a mirror. This is a tradition found in many Buddhist temples.

  • Thumbnail for Ritual Vessel (Jue) - opposite side
    Ritual Vessel (Jue) - opposite side

    8 inches x 6.5 inches. Opposite side of classical ritual pouring vessel is cast with typical zoomorphic taotie mask design divided by flanges below a border of lappets on the central decorated section. The smoothly patinated surface shows malachite incrustation throughout. This is one of the most recognizable of the archaic bronze forms.

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - Banner on main gate of Ikuta Jinja
    Ikuta Jinja - Banner on main gate of Ikuta Jinja

    This banner advertises an upcoming festival, on July 15th, that will feature the lighting of a thousand lanterns, the rope circle through which one may walk (chinuwa kuguri), and a purification rite aimed at "countering obstacles, eliminating illness and vanquishing troubles."

  • Thumbnail for Ikuta Jinja - An ema and a wish
    Ikuta Jinja - An ema and a wish

    This ema reads, in the center, "May I find someone I really like and keep a good relationship for a long time." To the right is also written," May I find a man."

  • Thumbnail for Kashima Miya - Washing basin
    Kashima Miya - Washing basin

    At this stone basin worshippers will rinse both hand and mouth as a symbolic act of purification before proceeding into the shrine center.

  • Thumbnail for Before Kobo Daishi's shrine
    Before Kobo Daishi's shrine

    The actual small shrine where Kobo Daishi's body was placed is behind the large mausoleum. These visitors stand between the mausoleum and the shrine while facing the shrine, which is to the right in this photo. The man in the white jacket is the guide, who tells them about the history of the shrine and instructs them how to pray, which they all subsequently do. In front of the shrine, there are always many fresh flowers donated by the faithful.

  • Thumbnail for Mound of Buddha images
    Mound of Buddha images

    The inscription on the stone pillar says that this mound is comprised of images dedicated to the spirits of people who died without anyone who directly cared for them. Such beings are called "muenbotoke," or "deceased ones without connections." So in addition to grave sites for familiar loved ones, some Japanese Buddhists have felt the need to erect memorials for those who were not fortunate enough to have someone to remember them when they died.

  • Thumbnail for Bathing statues in Okunoin
    Bathing statues in Okunoin

    These are the same statues as in cocrejpn0182. The most visible is a standing Kannon, the bodhisattva of compassion. To the right is visible the Tamagawa stream, over which the bridge in the background takes visitors to Kobo Daishi's mausoleum.

  • Thumbnail for Statues near Okunoin
    Statues near Okunoin

    Near the main shrine at Okunoin people stop to pray before, and pour water over, these Buddhist images.

  • Thumbnail for Helping the Spirits
    Helping the Spirits

    Three men burn paper offerings during the Hungry Ghost Festival