Sasa no ha sara sara
Nokiba ni yureru
Ohoshisama kira kira
Bamboo leaves are rustling,
Swaying at the eaves;
The stars are twinkling,
Like gold and silver sand.
Ah! One can almost picture the night sky with the wind softly brushing against bamboo plants. Sung in a melodious tune, Tanabata-sama, for that’s what it’s called, has become an intrinsic part of Japanese culture.
Tanabata, or Star Festival, is a much-awaited festival celebrated on the 7th of July every year. Legend has it that this day marks the reunion of two stars Vega (Orihime) and Altair (Hikoboshi). Orihime was the daughter of the Emperor of heaven, the celestial weaver. She and her husband, Hikoboshi, incurred the Emperor’s wrath due to negligence of duties, blissful in each other’s company. The enraged Emperor banished them to opposite ends of Amanogawa, the milky way. But, not wanting to be too harsh on his daughter, he allowed her to meet him once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar. It is also fabled that a flock of magpies form a bridge for the two to meet.
The Chinese festival of Qixi is said to have been the source of Tanabata. Qixi festival is often considered the Chinese equivalent of Valentine’s Day.
In Japan, parades are carried out with lots of cultural performances throughout the day. The most famous ones are those held in Sendai, Hiratsuka and Asagaya among other places. It is also celebrated in Korea, Taiwan, Brazil and the USA.
(source: http://www.gettyimages.fi )
It is believed that on this day, all wishes will come true. Hence, people celebrate Tanabata by penning their wishes on colourful papers (called tanzaku ) and then hanging them from the branches of bamboo plants. Generally, people wish for successful careers, happiness, good harvests, achievement of yearly targets, etc. Also, there is a custom of decorating with Seven Ornaments, especially in Sendai. These ornaments consist, among others, of Tanzaku which indicates progress in studies and Orizuru (cranes) which are meant for longevity and well-being.
So, what are you waiting for?
Type in your wishes below(in the comments)!
Psst, don’t be surprised if you see more flocks of birds than usual, in the sky!