2006年05月09日

Dinesh のマンゴー通信 vol.5

mikoshi.jpg

A Fascinating New Year in Tokyo (Part II)

I went to souvenir shop where Miko was working. She told me that “We are short of people to serve the Shrine. Can you help us”. But as ever ready to experience new things, I accepted the offered. I do not know Japanese tradition. In past worked in public festivals in India like Ganesha. I was bit worried that unknowingly should not hurt feelings of the devotees. Hesitantly I started working. Temple staff made me in charge of Amakaze distribution. Immediately a table, stove, paper cups and a kettle full of Amazake. The job seems to be small but important. Yosshu, I made my sleeves up and started saying “Amazake ikagadesuka … Amazake ikagadesuka”.

Though the weather was cold and cloudy lot of people were visiting this shrine. Friends, families, mothers with very babies and upto very old Oji-Oba-san. The site was very nice too watch. Many of them were hesitant to ask Amazake from me. “Who is this strange person standing”. But when I said "Amazake Ikaga desuka?" in Japanese, many of them threw away the fear and had Amazake. Whole family even small kids were having Amazake. Like me some parents did not know that Amazake is non-alcoholic drink. They told children that it is OK to break law on such auspicious day.

Along with Amazake also distributed GinaLan. It is a hardshell fruit from the plum tree. It is a bitter in taste. Ginlan is used in "ChawaMushi". Some Soba shops has Ginlan on the menu. Miko picked up Ginlan and Shoufuku Koban and pushed in my pocket. Shoufuku Koban is old gold or silver coin with hole. Japanese believes that Shoufuku Koban brings luck and happiness to the house.

At about 6o'clock we wound up Amazake shop and went inside. Miko introduced me to Chief Priest of the shrine (宮司). For the post he was young. He immediately printed out English information about the shrine and gave me. He also gave me O-Mamori sticker. We all went into a room where food was arranged. While watching DVD about Torigoe Jinja’s Mikoshi (portable Shinto shrine) and Matsuri. It was easy to talk with Guuji. He told the stories about Torigoe Jinja. We talked about differences between Indian and Japanese festivals. In Japan also festival starts with cleaning home, then special arrangement of the place where the God will be kept or expected to come. Many rituals are old and do not have great significance in modern life. But the spirit of festival is to unite the whole community by doing things together. This is really modern thinking by a Guuji.

Guuji offered me Otosu. A Nihonshu with herbs specifically made for Gantan (New Year). He made Ozoni for me. Baked Omochi little and then added Oden soup, vegetables. Omochi also has connection with Good luck and fortune.



I had really special New Year. I had lifetime experience. Unfortunately, I could not take a single photo. The memories of the day will never die. These are precious memories of my stay in Japan.

火曜担当:Dinesh

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