Setsubun

3 02 2009

Today February 3 is setsubun more  here where people throw roasted soybeans while saying oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi or demons out luck in.  I don’t do that I just eat the soybeans I bought at the grocery store as a healthy snack but I wonder how many people actually think they can actually get rid of demons by throwing soybeans?  I wonder if anyone has ever taken a poll?  Maybe I should call the Pope and tell his Holiness that we`ve been doing it wrong all this time with the holy water throwing and power of Christ compels you shouting when we ought to have been throwing soybeans and saying oni wa soto.  Yes I am being silly and no I dont have the Pope`s phone number and even if I did have his number I dont think I would have the guts to phone him😀


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4 responses

6 02 2009
Tom in Az

Actually, “oni” is “troll” or “ogre,” not demon. The mistranslation–all too common!–is probably because, due to the role the Rakshasas play in Indian cosmology (analogous to the giants in Norse myth, they want to destroy the world), Buddhist art depicts Rakshasas tormenting sinners in Naraka (hell). The Japanese conflate the Rakshasas with the native monsters, the oni, who are similar to trolls.

Thus, Demon (torments damned)=>Rakshasa (torments sinners)=>Oni, in a three-way syncretism that just muddies all the waters

What they’re really saying is, “Trolls out; luck in.” The soybeans are a minor offering, a bit like the porridge the Romans gave the household gods, since the oni aren’t evil, just dangerous, like trolls. Similar half-joking rituals are done throughout Europe, as a part of folk culture.

Real, honest to goodness exorcisms aren’t found in Japan (not directly invoking God, they can’t drive out Devils–sucks to be a pagan sometimes), though sometimes possession/obsession by angered ghosts/spirits is dealt with by Buddhist or Shinto “clergy”. Prior to the 19th century, they were sometimes handled by the Onmyoryou or “Bureau of Yin and Yang,” basically the Ministry of Magic (also Astrology). The ceremonies are as involved as an analogous Christian exorcism, and traditionally considered quite dangerous.

7 02 2009
Viator Catholicus

Insteresting, because ancient Rome (which also had a native animistic religion) celebrated the Lemuria in May during which fava beans were thrown to chase away evil spirits.

7 02 2009
Viator Catholicus

PS I had trouble with the link you provided.

10 02 2009
vee8

Tom and Viator interesting stuff on the history and Tom you`re right demon is an all too common mistranslation of oni. I realized my mistake on Sunday when the Gospel reading mentioned Jesus driving out demons and the word used was akuma. Oh and I think the link is fixed now.

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