Omizutori: Legend

This week in Japan, a ceremony is underway that has its roots in an legend that goes back to the 8th century. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

According to the legend, in the year 752, a priest erected a temple in Nara, Japan, in honor of Kannon – an eleven-headed deity. The priest summoned other deities to a special ceremony. They all showed up, but one god arrived late. Yet he was so touched by the ceremony and so full of remorse for being tardy, that he promised a source of sacred water would hence forth flow to the temple. From that moment on, water has flowed from a spring on the temple grounds, and every year, after two weeks of preparations and prayers, a water drawing ceremony called Omizituri is held at Todai Temple on March 12th.

Many spectators come to Nara to witness the public side of this event, which includes the lighting of torches that seem to set the whole temple ablaze with showers of sparks.

Much of the ritual activity is hidden from view, but you can hear the monks as they chant, blow on conch shells, and walk around the inner alter of the temple in their wooden sandals. The ceremony goes on through the night until the early hours of the morning. Water is drawn from the sacred well, and offered to a statue of the eleven-headed Kannon – a statue that supposedly no one outside of the temple’s monks has ever seen.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation.I’m Jim Metzner.

Omizutori: Legend

The divine fountain at the Todai Temple is the heart of the Japanese Omizutori ceremony.
Air Date:03/10/2000
Scientist:
Transcript:

This week in Japan, a ceremony is underway that has its roots in an legend that goes back to the 8th century. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet, presented by DuPont.

According to the legend, in the year 752, a priest erected a temple in Nara, Japan, in honor of Kannon - an eleven-headed deity. The priest summoned other deities to a special ceremony. They all showed up, but one god arrived late. Yet he was so touched by the ceremony and so full of remorse for being tardy, that he promised a source of sacred water would hence forth flow to the temple. From that moment on, water has flowed from a spring on the temple grounds, and every year, after two weeks of preparations and prayers, a water drawing ceremony called Omizituri is held at Todai Temple on March 12th.

Many spectators come to Nara to witness the public side of this event, which includes the lighting of torches that seem to set the whole temple ablaze with showers of sparks.

Much of the ritual activity is hidden from view, but you can hear the monks as they chant, blow on conch shells, and walk around the inner alter of the temple in their wooden sandals. The ceremony goes on through the night until the early hours of the morning. Water is drawn from the sacred well, and offered to a statue of the eleven-headed Kannon - a statue that supposedly no one outside of the temple's monks has ever seen.

Pulse of the Planet is presented by DuPont, bringing you the miracles of science, with additional support provided by the National Science Foundation.I'm Jim Metzner.