Angama celebrates return of ancestral spirits on Ishigaki’s Unke
August 27, 2015 Ryukyu Shimpo
On August 26, the first day of Okinawa’s Obon, called Unke in Ishigaki City, a traditional Yaeyama ceremony, Angama, was held throughout the community. Messengers from Guso (afterlife), Ushumai (an old man) and Nmii (an old woman) brought Fama (descendants) wearing Hanagasa (a flower hat) and visited households. They offered songs and dance to ancestors and entertained the audience by answering questions. Angama is a celebration of the return of ancestral spirits and a chance to pray for prosperity.
Angama visited Eiko Kawaidaira’s house in Tonoshiro around 7 p.m. While Fama performed dance, Ushumai and Nmii had conversations with the audience in high-pitched voices.
To the question, “Why does Okinawa’s Obon take three days?”, they answered in Yaeyama language, “Obon is like the New Year’s three-day holiday in Guso.” “If you want to know more, let’s go to Guso together.” The audience laughed. Eleven-year-old granddaughter of Kawahira, Kanon Ohama said, “It was funny to see them get lost for words trying to answer difficult questions.”
(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)
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