A time to dance

KAPAA — The West Kauai Hongwanji Hanapepe Temple will be the site of the first bon dance of the Kauai Buddhist Council Bon Dance schedule.

The public is invited to the bon dances, which takes place tonight and Saturday from 7:30 p.m., ending at around 10 p.m.

In addition to the bon dance, there will be food and games.

Bon, a shortened version of Obon, is a Buddhist observance which originally was observed in Mahayana Buddhist countries, including China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam.

The observance was brought to Hawaii by the Japanese people who were brought in to labor on the plantations, and due to the colorful and festive nature of the observance, was assimilated into the Hawaiian lifestyle.

This Hawaiian style celebration has resulted in the Buddhist churches relying on its bon celebration as a fundraiser for its annual operations, offering the public a number of food choices, games, and other activities.

Bon dances take place each week, with the exception of the July 4th weekend, at different member temples of the Kauai Buddhist Council. Following the final bon dance at the Koloa Jodo Mission on Aug. 4 and 5, the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital hosts a bon dance for its residents who are physically unable to attend the community events.

Brycen Hiraoka, president of the Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital, said this year, KVMH will not be able to have its bon dance due to reconstruction at the hospital’s long term care units.

“I was so busy with taiko, I didn’t have that much time to dance the new dance,” said Jonathan Cabot, keeping time with a taiko at bon dance practice, Monday at the Kapaa Honganji social hall. “Practice is a good time for me to catch up as well as learn the new dance for this year.”

Bon dance practice is offered by the different churches to allow people an opportunity to learn the different bon dances in order to participate in the festivities.

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