Breathtakingly Splendid and Beautiful: Autumn Festivals in Himeji is

Annual festivals of shrines in Himeji are mostly held in October.  Generally The festival is divided into two days.  The first day is called “Yoi-Miya (宵宮)” and the second day is called “Hon-Miya (本宮) or Hiru-Miya (昼宮)”.

Yoi-Miya (Evening Festival/宵宮)
The festival starts around noon of the first day with “Neri-Dashi” (練り出し).  In the each village or region, a Yatai (屋台), which is a portable shrine, is carried around to present it to the residents.  Participants parade around their village/town with the Yatai in the afternoon, which is called “Mura-Neri (Village Parade/村練り)”.

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Paper Lantern Parade (提灯練り)
Usuki Hachiman Shrines (魚吹八幡神社) is famous for its Evening Paper Lantern Parade (提灯練り) which is performed by participants from seven villages in the evening.

Hiru-Miya (Day Festival/昼宮)
The main festival takes place on the second day.  The participants with Yatai leave home village/town and heads to the “Otabisho (御旅所)”, place where the sacred palanquin is lodged during a festival.  According to the tradition, when Kami (Gods of Shinto religion) go on a journey, people(Ujiko/氏子), who are people under the protection of the local tutelary deity, accompany the god(s).  When Yatai of each villages/towns are lines up, participants starts “carrying competition” on the huge public space.

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Cho-Sa (チョーサ) as Western style (西の流儀) at Usuki Hachiman Shrine
Yatai (the locals say “Yattai” instead of Yatai) which belongs to Usuki Hachman Shrine, participants perform Cho-Sa, which are lifting the Yattai over their heads.  Yattai is tossed into air by men. When carriers lift the Yattai with the shout, “Cho-Sa (チョーサ)”.  This style of lifting is commonly seen in the western and neighbouring part of Himeji such as Aboshi and Tatsuno.

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Yo-I-Ya-Sa (ヨーイヤサー) as Eastern style (東の流儀) at Matsubara Hachiman Shrine
At the Matsubara Hachiman Shrine, which is famous as Nada Fighting Festival (灘のけんか祭り), two or more palanquins are banged against each other. That’s called “Neri-Awase” (練り合わせ).  When carriers lift the Yatai (the locals say Yassa instead of Yatai) with the shout, “Yo-I-Ya-Sa (ヨーイヤサー)”.  This style of lifting and banging is commonly seen in eastern part of Himeji such as Shikama (飾磨) and Shirahama (白浜).
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As you can see it takes a lot of manpower to lift up the float as it weights up to 2.5 tons! Teamwork and a great synchronization are necessary.

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Miya-Iri (宮入)
Then, the main event of the day will start, the “Miya-Iri” (宮入). Each Yatai (屋台/portable shrine) will enter through the shrine gate to receive the blessings of the gods.

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At Matsubara Shrine (松原八幡神社) and Usuki Shrine (魚吹八幡神社), the top of the Yatai had to be removed so that it would fit through the entrance gate. Some people say having to remove the top is similar to taking off your hat when entering a church, to pay respect to the god(s).
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In some shrines such as Matsubara Hachiman shrine (松原八幡神社), a Shinto priest tosses purifying salt over each team and float during the ceremony.  Generally there’s a given order in which the seven floats of each village have to enter.

Lion Dance (獅子舞) at Matsubara Hachiman Shrine.
After all portable shrines have received their blessings and the “Neri-Awase” has started, there’s “Shishimai“. It’s a lion dance held in front of Shirahama Elementary scool and in front of the Shrine. In contrast to the busy working of Yatai, the lion dance is performed peacefully and gracefully with ancient Japanese court music (Gagaku, 雅楽).

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Miya-De (宮出)
After Miya-Neri (宮練り) in the afternoon, participants take a break and have meal with mates or family.  Each Yatai leaves the shrine (Miya-De, 宮出) and come home in the evening.  The illuminated Yatai looks quite nice.

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Traditional Matsuri Clothes
The men who participate as carriers of the floats all put on headbands (hachimaki、鉢巻). The color of the headband depends on either his role or the village they belong to.  Furthermore they are wrapped in mawashi (廻し) which is similar to fundoshi (褌) , a loincloth that sumo wrestlers usually wear.  The contestants wear Jika-tabi (地下足袋), a type of traditional Japanese boots.  Last but not least, they have a udemamori (腕守り), an arm protector, on their upper left arm.

Carriers are called “Neriko(練り子)”.  People who carry the Yatai on their shoulders.  A Yatai is carried by at least 60 people that consists of male adults traditionally.

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People who ride and drum inside the palanquin is called “Noriko (乗り子)”. Drumming is usually performed by four men who wear expensive kimono(Japanese traditional costume).

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Beautiful Parts of Yatai
When you find a resting float, you can get closer and admire all the great details:

The yatai (屋台) have gold and silver decorations and weights from 2.0 tons to 2.5 tons. There are some rumours that one costs around 1 million USD but it’s not sured yet. They have to build a new Yatai every 15-20 years. Often you see newly built yatai (wooden without a lot of decoration) getting blessings from the shrine during the festival as well. In 1-2 years they can be used for real. They’re called Shiraki Yatai (白木屋台, untreated wood yatai).

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Yatai-Mon(屋台紋): The crest on the roof of Yattai.  The crests vary in pattern and design, mostly represent its shrine’s emblem and symbolizes its region’s guarding gods. Three comma‐shaped figures in a circle (左三つ巴) is commonly seen on the Yatai which belongs to Hachiman Shrines (八幡神社).  Also dragon crests (龍紋) are very common for Yatai of Matsubara, Usuki Hachiman and Tomishima shrines.  Plum bowl (梅鉢) crests are used by Yatai of Tenmangu Shrine (天満神社).  Apart from them, you can find unique crests such as eagle (鷲), sea-bream (鯛), bottle gourd (千成り瓢箪) and Asarum caulescens (葵).

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Sama(挟間): Gap wooden carving.  The carving shows a famous scene of Samurai battles or Japanese myths.

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Maku(幕): Embroidered curtain.

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Honbou(本棒): Main wooden bar.  The main bar is usually thicker than the side one.
Wakibou(脇棒): Side wooden bar. Each yatai is decorated with beautiful wooden carvings and other valuable items.
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Autumn Festival Schedule in and around Himeji
Hamanomiya Tenman Shrine (浜の宮天満神社) 8th and 9th Oct
Ebisunomiya Tenman Shrine (恵美酒宮天満神社) 8th and 9th Oct
Tsuda Tenman Shrine (津田天満神社) 2nd Saturday and Sunday Oct
Ohshio Tenmangu Shrine (大塩) 14th and 15th Oct
Matsubara Hachiman Shrine (松原八幡神社) 14th and 15th Oct
Arakawa Shrine (荒川神社) Saturday and Sunday which are closest to 17th of Oct
Tomishima Shrine (富嶋神社) 3rd Saturday and Sunday of Oct
Usuki Hachiman Shrine (魚吹八幡神社) 21st and 22nd Oct

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Srimad Bhagawatam ~ Episode 799

http://video.sgsposts.com/video/334637436

Episode 799

The Gopikas surround Uddhava and enquire about Srikrishna

Narayana Krishna

Tenth Canto Chapter Forty-seven

In this chapter, the conversation between Uddhava and the Gopikas and the teaching known as Bhramara-gita are covered.

Maharishi Śuka continued, “Uddhava, the attendant of Srikrishna, was wearing yellow garments and a garland of lotuses around his neck. He had long arms, eyes that resembled freshly-bloomed lotuses, a face that glowed like a blooming lotus and had worn earrings that shone resplendently due to be being laced with gems.

Gopikas saw this pleasant form of Uddhava and were deeply astonished. ‘Who is this handsome person dressed like Krishna?’ they wondered”.

Even in Brindavan, all the cowherd boys would dress the way Krishna did. They imitated His style. Likewise, Uddhava had similarly dressed like the Lord.

“The Gopikas thought, ‘From where would he have arrived? Who would have sent him here? He is dressed like Krishna.’ In anxiety and eagerness, all the Gopikas quickly surrounded him. Uddhava had sought shelter in the lotus feet of Srikrishna, the Lord who is of great repute.

Upon recognizing him to be a messenger of Krishna, the husband of Lakshmi, the Gopikas took him to a quiet place. Seating him on a suitable mat, all of them, honoured him with their shy smiles and tender gazes, sweet words and offering of water.

Thereafter they offered obeisance to him and, in all humility, enquired, “We have come to know that you are an attendant of Srikrishna, the Lord of Yadavas, and that, at His behest, you have arrived here to give joy to His parents”.

These Gopikas had their own method of obtaining news. One Gopika who had noticed his arrival the previous night informed all her friends that he was a servant of Krishna who had come purely at the behest of the Lord.

“We presume that apart from His parents, there is nothing that He seems to remember in this Gokula”.

In this way the Gopikas were expressing their anguish upon not seeing Him for long. They complained that He appeared to miss only His parents and none else. ‘How can He not remember us or these cows, these ponds, these forests?’

They continued, “Even Maharishis find it difficult to cut away from the bondage to their own family, isn’t it? The human being develops friendship with other people solely for some personal gain and then breaks the bonds upon fulfilment of his goal. Why will any person seek friendship with others apart from his kith and kin without any objective in mind? A man befriending a woman or a bee befriending a flower belong to such category”.

The Gopikas were angry- Krishna had conveyed message only for His parents. There was no mention of the Gopikas and no message for them. Through these words they were expressing their anguish.

“A prostitute abandons a pauper; citizens abandon an incapable king; students abandon their teacher upon completion of their education and priests abandon the performer of the sacrifice upon receiving their remuneration (dakshina). Birds abandon a fallen tree; guests forget the home of the host upon completion of their meal.”

After completing the meal, guests forget their host. Some guests do not even bother to thank the host for their hospitality.

“Animals discard the burnt forest, while the lover abandons the woman after enjoyment, even though she continues to remain attached to him”.

Some men praise their wives only when they need her services, not otherwise. When their needs are fulfilled they abandon their wives or neglect her.

“In thought, word and deed these Gopikas belonged only to Lord Govinda. To them, He was everything. Their thoughts were focussed solely upon Him. In the presence of Uddhava, the messenger of Srikrishna who had arrived in their midst, they discarded all their material transactions. Remembering all the activities of Srikrishna, from infancy up to the age of ten, these Gopikas sang them for Uddhava”.

Initially they let out their anger. They scolded the Lord who had deserted them after reaching Mathura. Later on they began to sing His glories. Their world was centred around Krishna alone! Hence they scolded Him but yet sang about Him.

“As they were singing, they unabashedly began to shed tears in the presence of Uddhava. One of the Gopikas wanted to meditate upon Srikrishna and enjoy His company in solitude. Exactly at that moment a bee hovered around her. Considering the bee to be a messenger sent by Srikrishna she said to it,

‘O bee, you are a servant of that cheat Srikrishna. You are a cheat who drinks nectar and then abandons the flower. Akin to you, Srikrishna is also a cheat. After allowing us to drink the nectar from His lips, thus throwing us into infatuation, He has abandoned us all.  How does Goddess Lakshmi serve Him, who is a cheat? Believing Maharishi Narada, who praised Him as one with unblemished repute, she gave her heart to Him’.”

Krishna Narayana

Shared from SGS Posts (www.sgsposts.com)

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Srimad Bhagavatam – Day 100

Asmāl lokād uparate mayi jñānaṁ mad-āśrayam
Arhaty uddhava evāddhā sampraty ātmavatāṁ varaḥ

After I depart from these planes, in matters pertaining to imparting knowledge about me, Uddhava alone is competent. He is wise and has conquered his senses. He is the foremost amongst devotees. He is over and above the three attributes of nature (trigunas) and will not be trapped in any worldly illusion. It is not limited to this! He is equal to me in every respect. Therefore may he remain in this world for some more time, imparting knowledge about me to people!

“Sukhāya karmāṇi karoti loko na taiḥ sukhaṁ vānyad-upāramaṁ vā
Vindeta bhūyas tata eva duḥkhaṁ yad atra yuktaṁ bhagavān vaden naḥ

The human being aspiring for happiness at all times performs frutitive actions aimed at obtaining happiness. Despite his efforts through these actions neither is he able to procure any form of happiness nor is he successful in being able to drive away sorrows. Ultimately only the physical strain of performing the deeds and the recurring sorrow that it brings only remain. What should a person who is struck in this deplorable condition do to obtain supreme bliss? O venerable great sage! Please be kind enough to explain”.

Janasya kṛṣṇād vimukhasya daivād adharma-śīlasya suduḥkhitasya
Anugrahāyeha caranti nūnaṁ bhūtāni bhavyāni janārdanasya

Lacking faith in the Supreme Lord Krishna, the human being turns away from Him and instead develops inclination towards unrighteous deeds. As such he is eternally sorrowful. To guide such persons and to ensure that they tread the path of righteousness, the auspicious devotees of Lord Srikrishna wander about the entire earth.

from Srimad Bhagavatam – Day 100(Translations of Pujya Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji’s daily explanation of Srimad Bhagavatam on ETV from December 2015 onwards are compiled by Parimala Eshwarla)

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Srimad Bhagavatam – Day 99

“Ko nv īśa te pāda-saroja-bhājāṁ
Sudurlabho ’rtheṣu caturṣv apīha
Tathāpi nāhaṁ pravṛṇomi bhūman
Bhavat-padāmbhoja-niṣevaṇotsukaḥ

O Lord! There is nothing which is not attained by those who serve Your lotus feet! The four-fold aims of life viz., Dharma, artha, kama and moksha, will all be easily attained by them. O Paramatma! Even then I do not seek them. The desire to remain eternally serving Your lotus feet is very strong, O Lord.

Yatra nārāyaṇo devo naraś ca bhagavān ṛṣiḥ
Mṛdu tīvraṁ tapo dīrghaṁ tepāte loka-bhāvanau

That holy place Badarikāśrama where Maharishis Nara and Narayana, with the intent of bringing about the welfare of the worlds, took up gentle austerities but performed them with utmost strictness is very dear to Srikrishna. I am now proceeding to Badari” said Uddhava.

Asmāl lokād uparate mayi jñānaṁ mad-āśrayam
Arhaty uddhava evāddhā sampraty ātmavatāṁ varaḥ

from Srimad Bhagavatam – Day 99(Translations of Pujya Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji’s daily explanation of Srimad Bhagavatam on ETV from December 2015 onwards are compiled by Parimala Eshwarla)

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Srimad Bhagavatam – Day 98

Bhagavān api viśvātmā loka-veda-pathānugaḥ
Kāmān siṣeve dvārvatyām asaktaḥ sāṅkhyam āsthitaḥ

Lord Srikrishna, who is the universal Self, enjoyed the comforts in Dwaraka while adhering to the customs of the world, strictly abiding by the Vedic dictates, being firmly established in the ultimate Absolute Truth, and with absolutely no desire towards this materialistic world. In this way he established the path of knowledge in this world.

Bhagavān svātma-māyāyā gatiṁ tām avalokya saḥ
Sarasvatīm upaspṛśya vṛkṣa-mūlam upāviśat

The Supreme Lord with His transcendental divine vision foresaw this destruction of His Yadava clan. He then bathed in the River Saraswati and sat down under a tree.

from Srimad Bhagavatam – Day 98(Translations of Pujya Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji’s daily explanation of Srimad Bhagavatam on ETV from December 2015 onwards are compiled by Parimala Eshwarla)

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Srimad Bhagavatam – Day 96

Aho bakī yaṁ stana-kāla-kūṭaṁ
Jighāṁsayāpāyayad apy asādhvī
Lebhe gatiṁ dhātry-ucitāṁ tato ’nyaṁ
Kaṁ vā dayāluṁ śaraṇaṁ vrajema

With the intent of killing infant Krishna, the wicked demoness Putana applied deadly poison to her breasts and fed him her milk. For having breast fed him, Putana, although being wicked, was bestowed with the same levels of merit (punya) that his mother Yashoda had earned for raising Him. Aha! What wonder! What more can be said about His compassion! Who else apart from Him can be our refuge?

Vasudevasya devakyāṁ jāto bhojendra-bandhane
Cikīrṣur bhagavān asyāḥ śam ajenābhiyācitaḥ

Hearing the pleas of Lord Brahma, with the intent of reducing the burden of earth and causing her great delight, Sri Mahavishnu, took birth as the son of Devaki and Vasudeva in the prison of Kamsa.

Vipannān viṣa-pānena nigṛhya bhujagādhipam
Utthāpyāpāyayad gāvas tat toyaṁ prakṛti-sthitam

The serpent-king Kaliya poisoned the waters of the lake due to which many cows and cowherds, who drank the waters of the lake, suddenly lost their life. At that moment Krishna punished Kaliya and revived the dead cows and cowherds back to life. He drove Kaliya out of that lake. With this, the waters of that lake turned pure and were fit for consumption.

Sāndīpaneḥ sakṛt proktaṁ brahmādhītya sa-vistaram
Tasmai prādād varaṁ putraṁ mṛtaṁ pañca-janodarāt

Thereafter Srikrishna, for his formal education, went and resided in the hermitage of Maharishi Sāndipini as his student.

from Srimad Bhagavatam – Day 96(Translations of Pujya Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji’s daily explanation of Srimad Bhagavatam on ETV from December 2015 onwards are compiled by Parimala Eshwarla)

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Srimad Bhagavatam – Day 95

Ko vā amuṣyāṅghri-saroja-reṇuṁ vismartum īśīta pumān vijighran
Yo visphurad-bhrū-viṭapena bhūmer bhāraṁ kṛtāntena tiraścakāra

Which devotee, who has even once smelt the fragrance of the lotus feet of that Lord, who with the mere movement of his deathly eyebrows has caused death of all those who were a burden to Earth, can ever forget Him?

from Srimad Bhagavatam – Day 95(Translations of Pujya Sri Ganapathy Sachchidananda Swamiji’s daily explanation of Srimad Bhagavatam on ETV from December 2015 onwards are compiled by Parimala Eshwarla)