A New Year’s prayer at Higa Katsuren Uruma

A New Year’s prayer at Higa Katsuren Uruma

[Hachiugan] At around 10:00am on January 23, at the sanctuary Shirumichuu, Higa Katsuren, Uruma, residents perform songs and dances to pray for the prosperity of the island.

January 24, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On January 23, a New Year’s prayer was carried out at Higa Katsuren in Uruma City. The prayer is called Hachiugan and people went around 12 sanctuaries praying for the prosperity of the island and for their family’s health. About fifty residents, from young to old, men and women, gathered to exchange New Year’s greetings saying, “Iisoguwachi debiru (“Happy New Year” in the Okinawan language) at the fifth sanctuary, called Shirumichuu.

The sanctuary is known as the home of the gods Amamikiyo and Shirumikyo, who created the Ryukyus. For Hachiugan, women priests and residents offered prayers and performed songs and dances. Students of Higa Elementary School and Higa Junior High School also joined in the prayer.

Seventy-eight year-old resident Setsuko Heshiki said, “The site soothes our souls. I prayed for the health and safety of my family.” Isamu Heshiki the ward chief of Higa said, “Every time I come here it clears up, even at times of bad weather, so I can sense divine power. I would like to continue this important tradition with children living on the island.”

(English translation by T&CT, Shinako Oyakawa and Mark Ealey)

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