Yesterday was “Traditional Sweets Day” in my country of origin. There are various views on how it came about, but the one the Association that established the Day takes has roots that go back more than a millennium: during a period in which plagues hit hard and wide, the then head of the nation decided to pray to the Gods to clear the epidemic with offerings of loads of sweets.
I visited a shrine that continues to perform this ritual in our times. There were chants to thank for the providence since last year’s ritual and request to have evil chased away until next year’s; there were music and dance by shrine priests and maidens; and there was a real-time preparation of sweets:
The sweets resemble… left: two-leaf hollyhock (logo of the shrine I visited); right: wisteria
After the ritual, the attendants were distributed fortune sweets, and this amulet/talisman sticker:
The four characters say “chase away evil, bring in luck” (maybe you have noticed the last two characters from this little one?)
Recently, we seem to be plagued worldwide with the fear of the unknown leading to heated disputes, heightened tension, and deadly violence.
Maybe the prayers we gave yesterday in a town in my nation was not loud enough to be heard around the world.
But maybe if I scribble about it here, at least they will reach you.
And maybe you can spread them to your town in your nation.
Then maybe we can unite to beat the pandemic.
I brought home some more fortune sweets to share with you:
The sweets resemble… top left: “red rice” (usually served on happy occasions in my culture); top right: gourd (with lots of seeds and its fruitfulness, represents prosperity); bottom: sea bream (pronounced similarly to the word for “fortuitous” in my mother tongue, represents fortune – in fortuitous colours, red and white)
And if you like, have a bowl of tea (made by yours truly!) with the fortune sweet distributed at the shrine while you stay here:
The sweet resembles coins used in the olden days, but characters changed to read (from right to left) “sign of fortune” and (from top to bottom) “God of the Mountains (the God enshrined at the shrine I visited)”
I pray that all the lives lost due to the fear plague, most recently yesterday for fear arising from differences in views, rest in peace.
I pray that none of us will wake up to another tragic news tomorrow morning.
I pray “chase away evil, bring in luck” to you.