Returning to their world: Toro marks end of obon

WAILUA — A handful of people from the Kapaa Jodo Mission braved the remnants of former tropical storms Gil and Henriette Sunday night at the Wailua River.

Following a day of blustery weather caused by the passage of the former storms to the south of the Islands, volunteers from the Kapaa Jodo Mission launched its toro, or paper lanterns, into the waters of Wailua River during a break in the weather.

“We didn’t know whether to do it here at Wailua, or move to Lydgate because of the weather,” said Rev. Shoryu Akiya of the Kapaa Jodo Mission.

For the members of the church, it was not a question of where, but the fact the ceremony needed to be done.

The toro nagashi marks the end of the obon season, a time when spirits of deceased loved ones return to the world of the living for reunions.

The toro, or paper lanterns representing the souls of loved ones, return to their world during the toro nagashi send-off.

“This year, Kapaa Jodo Mission celebrated the last bon dance on the Kauai Buddhist Council calendar,” Akiya said. “That was Aug. 3 and 4. Next year, Kapaa Jodo Mission will welcome the bon season with the first bon dance during the second week of June.”

The Kauai Buddhist Council may have concluded its calendar of bon dance, but the celebrations continued, the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital hosting its bon dance Friday with the aid of community volunteers and the Mahelona Hospital Auxiliary.

On Friday, the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital Auxiliary will host the KVMH bon dance with dinner service starting at 5 p.m.

Parking will be available at the neighboring Waimea Canyon Middle School, said Brycen Hiraoka.

In addition to the bon dance food specials, the public is invited to participate in the variety of games and enjoy the round of bon dances.

On Aug. 30 and 31, the Kauai Veterans Council will host its 2013 Bon festival at the Kauai Veterans Center on Kapule Highway from 5 to 10 p.m.

Dinner service starts at 5 p.m. with entertainment featuring the Kasibulan Philippine Dance Co. opening at 6 p.m.

The public is invited to browse through the offerings of craft vendors, food and game booths.

Call Aida at 246-1135 for more information.

• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

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