Lunar New Year celebration on Hamahiga Island

Lunar New Year celebration on Hamahiga Island

In the morning of February 8 at Shirumichu on Hamahiga Island, Uruma City, residents prayed for health and the community’s prosperity as they offered songs and dances. (Photograph taken by Yuna Fukuhara)

February 9, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

On February 8, the date of the Lunar New Year, the first prayer of the year, “Hachi ugan”, was offered at a hallowed ground, “Shirumichu”, in Katsuren Higa in Uruma City. It is said that an ancestral god of Ryukyu, Amamichu, and Shirumichu are enshrined in a cave on a hill in the area. Residents played sanshin and taiko, and performed dances as they prayed for a state of perfect health and a prosperous year.

At Shirumichu, a stalactite enshrined in a cave is a sacred stone believed to have provided the treasure of a child. For the beginning of the year, Noro (shaman) of a community prayed with offerings of rice and sweets. Many residents who visited Shirumichu prayed for the prosperity of the community.

Praying with a hanagumi (polished white rice) offering on his or her head is believed to bring good health to people. Seventy-eight-year-old Yasue Miyagi, who visits the site every year, said, “I get hanagumi and pray with my siblings for health for another year.”

Ward Mayor Tsuyoshi Shinjo said, “I want to visit 12 sacred places in the community and pray for the community’s prosperity throughout the year.”

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)

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