Drawing Water From a Sacred Well

Drawing Water From a Sacred Wellambience: Gagaku Shinto chantingWe’re listening to the sounds of a ceremony that’s over twelve hundred years old. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.In Nara, Japan at the Todai Buddhist temple, Omizutori – the water drawing ceremony, is taking place. It marks the end of weeks of careful preparation and prayer.This ritual event is a time of renewal, when we’re given a chance to repent for our misdeeds and to purify ourselves. The monks who participate in the ceremony do so on behalf of all people. On February 20th, eleven monks began to prepare themselves with sacred incantations, fasting and prayer. They wear wooden sandals which make a distinctive sound when the monks circle the inner shrine. On February 28th, the monks move to a reclusive shelter where they’ll stay for the next two weeks. Their 24-hour day is now divided into six parts, with special chants intoned for each part. The ceremony culminates with Omizutori – the drawing of water from a sacred well. No one from outside the monastery sees the well, and many other parts of this ritual are hidden from view. But there is definitely a public side to the event and it’s quite spectacular. On March 12th , late at night, before the water is drawn from the well, accompanied by bells and conch horns, young monks emerge from the temple bearing torches. The torches are carried up to the temple gallery and shaken about vigorously. Showers of glowing embers rain down on the spectators below. People even try to catch the embers, because they’re said to ward off evil. For the people of Nara, the celebration of Omizutori marks the beginning of springtime. This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast.

Drawing Water From a Sacred Well

At the conclusion of the Omizutori Festival in Japan, showers of glowing embers rain down on spectators.
Air Date:03/11/2021
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Transcript:

Drawing Water From a Sacred Wellambience: Gagaku Shinto chantingWe're listening to the sounds of a ceremony that's over twelve hundred years old. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.In Nara, Japan at the Todai Buddhist temple, Omizutori - the water drawing ceremony, is taking place. It marks the end of weeks of careful preparation and prayer.This ritual event is a time of renewal, when we're given a chance to repent for our misdeeds and to purify ourselves. The monks who participate in the ceremony do so on behalf of all people. On February 20th, eleven monks began to prepare themselves with sacred incantations, fasting and prayer. They wear wooden sandals which make a distinctive sound when the monks circle the inner shrine. On February 28th, the monks move to a reclusive shelter where they'll stay for the next two weeks. Their 24-hour day is now divided into six parts, with special chants intoned for each part. The ceremony culminates with Omizutori - the drawing of water from a sacred well. No one from outside the monastery sees the well, and many other parts of this ritual are hidden from view. But there is definitely a public side to the event and it's quite spectacular. On March 12th , late at night, before the water is drawn from the well, accompanied by bells and conch horns, young monks emerge from the temple bearing torches. The torches are carried up to the temple gallery and shaken about vigorously. Showers of glowing embers rain down on the spectators below. People even try to catch the embers, because they're said to ward off evil. For the people of Nara, the celebration of Omizutori marks the beginning of springtime. This archival program is part of our thirtieth anniversary celebration. If you want hear more, check out our podcast.