A memorial service is held in gratitude for the compassion of Amida Buddha and the life of Nembutsu. It is a time for family members and friends to gather together on behalf of the departed person, to share their memories, and to express thankfulness and gratitude.
Hoji (Dharma-Matter) – Hoji was originally a general term for any ritual observance. It now refers specifically to a memorial service for members of a given family. Extended members of a family, and often times close friends, gather at the Temple or home in memory of a deceased member of the family. Following the memorial service, the group will often share a meal, renewing and strengthening family ties. This custom has resulted in the understanding that death is a natural occurrence, no matter how upsetting it may seem. This custom tends to reinforce ties with members beyond one’s immediate family and offers a sense of continuity from generation to generation.
Chuin (In the Midst of Yin) – Chuin refers to an earlier tradition rooted in Far Eastern cultures, a wide-spread belief, where the deceased karmic energy is believed to be in a suspended state for 49-days before taking another form. It is marked by observances every seven days until the 49th day in hopes of helping the deceased to effect a higher rebirth. Jodo Shinshu observes Chuin in grateful memory of the deceased and as yet another opportunity to listen to the Dharma. Unlike the common Far Eastern tradition and belief, the ritual observance (Hoji) in Jodo Shinshu is not for the sake of the deceased, but for the living. In remembering the deceased, we acknowledge the influence of the deceased’s karma in our lives. We are the inheritors of the collective karma of our ancestors who cause us to meditate on our mortality and listen more intently to the Dharma. In Hawaii, observing the 7th and 49th day is the more common practice.
Hatsubon – literally it means first Obon. It is the first Obon after a person’s death. A memorial service is held at the Temple, before the Obon festivities, for the families observing Hatsubon.
Obon Home Service – At the request of an individual family, a memorial service is held by the Resident Minister within the family home in front of the family shrine during the Obon months, usually in July and August.