Author Topic: Buddhist monks dash through flames barefoot to celebrate the arrival of spring  (Read 3249 times)


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I thought i would share this article with the forum though this sounds more like Hindu fire walking than Buddhist? i guess walking through fire could be a way of clearing negative karma? i like the name "Shugenja" though - sounds a bit like Shugdenpa :)

Buddhist monks dash through flames barefoot to celebrate the arrival of spring
PUBLISHED: 18:41 GMT, 3 March 2013

Having a spring clean around the house is one way to mark the changing of the seasons, but Japanese Buddhist monks have a more extreme way of cleansing to welcome the arrival of spring.

As part of the Hiwatari-matsuri ceremony, Buddhist monks dash barefoot through flames to purify their bodies and minds of bad luck and misfortune, and to pray for safety in the seasons to come.

The ritual takes place each year at the beginning of March, and sees thousands participate in the fiery challenge to mark the end of winter.

A Buddhist dashes barefoot through flames in the 'Hi-watari', or fire walking ceremony, at the Fudoji temple

Amulets are carried by Buddhist monks in traditional dress through the flames to herald the coming of spring as part of the Hiwatari-matsuri festival, which takes place each March

Goma fires are lit by Shingon Buddhist monks dressed in traditional garb, who spark flints symbolically to ignite a sacred pyre and strike impurities from the vicinity. A sword is used to signify cutting the ties of wickedness from the area.

The monks, known as Shugenja, fire arrows to create a barrier against evil spirits while others whip themselves with a branch of bamboo soaked in boiling water.

At this Hiwatari-matsuri ceremony at Fudoji temple in Nagatoro, Buddhist monks were first to dash through flames, before festival goers followed suit over the embers

Buddhist ascetic monks blow trumpet shells at the start of the ritual, which symbolises a cleansing of the bad luck from those who participate

Special chants are uttered and  prayer sticks, known as goma-gi are tossed onto the flames before the Shugenja dash across the flames barefoot towards the end of the path where there is a statue of Izuna-Daigongen, the god of the mountain.

The monks carry special amulets through the coals, and when the fire has died down members of the public are allowed to participate in the ritual by walking over the embers, regardless of their beliefs.

Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being


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Walking through the flames (burning charcoal) is commonly practised in other faiths or beliefs.  A famous motivational speaker, Anthony Robbins also promotes the fire walk to prove the power of the mind to overcome fear and uncertainties.  Similarly, Japanese Buddhists are using the same method to control their minds.  It is a means to purify the negative karma but not an easy feat to accomplish. There are other methods to purify the negative karma though.  The Hiwatari-matsuri ceremony seems like a Japanese cultural practice that was taken up by the Japanese Buddhists.