Ushi Festival, Uzumasa, Koryuji Temple, Kyoto 牛祭り 太秦 広隆寺 京都 by Kari Gröhn, karigrohncom
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) Toccata, Adagio and Fugue in C major, Second movement, Pfarrkirche Gunsbach, Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)
Ushi (Ox) festival is a Buddhist festival at the Koryuji temple in Kyoto. The Matarajin deity 摩多羅神 dressed in white appears from darkness riding on a black ox. He climbs onto the stage in front of the temple accompanied by four oni. All of them wear paper masks. Matarajin starts reading prayers. The mantra is very long with a deliberate slowness. The oni and audience try to disturb reading. Nobody have any idea what it means. If Matarajin makes a mistake, he has to read it all over again. Finally, Matarajin
and the oni run down the stage and rush into the temple.
Ushi festival of Koryuji has many unusual aspects, alien to the typical festivals of either a Buddhist temple or a Shinto shrine. The central figure of this drama, the Matarajin deity, which was introduced to Japan from China by the Tendai Buddhist priest Ennin (794-864) as a protector of the Amida Sutra. Ennin initiated the worship of Amida Buddha. Madarajin was later adopted by the Buddhist priest Genshin (942-1017) as the tutelary deity of the practice of nenbutsu - the chanting of and meditating on the name of Amida in order to rebirth into the Pure Land.
Kōryū-ji is renowned for its wooden carving of Miroku Bosatsu (Buddha of the Future). It is believed that, far in the future, Miroku Bodhisattva will become a Buddha, and then appear on earth to save those unable to achieve enlightenment, thus bringing universal salvation to all sentient beings. Many scholars have recognized the congruence between the Amida faith and Christian salvation, and some have posited an actual historical connection. John B. Cobb Jr. b 1925, an American theologian writes: “To say that Amida is Christ and Christ is Amida is to say that Buddhists have come to know Wisdom and Compassion as Amida and Christians as Christ.”
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