Star festival: Lovers in the sky

Tanabata (Star festival) is a very popular tradition in Japan. And you may ask why? Oh well! Let me see, the story (or legend if you prefer it) has it all: passion, anger, lovers separated by a cruel oracle, and the hope of tomorrow.

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The romantic story of Tanabata (七夕・たなばた)is based on a Chinese legend that can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC- 220 AD) while in Japan, the Manyōshū (759 AD), the oldest book of Japanese poetry, gives us a window to the Tanabata celebrations during the Nara era.

The legend says that Hikoboshi (Star boy) and Orihime (Weaver girl) fell madly in love, and as young lovers, everywhere, they just had eyes for each other, but their passion made them forget their duties. And this enraged the king of heavens. So he vanished the lovers to opposite sides of the milky way allowing them to meet only once a year. And this is why we all pray for a clear night on Tanabata because if it rains, they won’t see each other for another year.

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And it is in Tanabata that we can pray, as well, for our very personal wishes, those colorful pieces of paper hanging from the bamboo trees (traditionally) represent the deepest desires of our hearts. And, I want to believe that there is a world that unfolds beyond our knowledge, in another dimension, and that the king or queen of heavens might read them and send us stars to enlight our paths.

 

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