Obon (The Festival of the Dead) is an annual Buddhist ritual which occurs in July (Western Julian calendar) or August (Chinese lunar calendar) depending on the location
The festival of Lanterns, especially by the Japanese Buddhists. It is said that during the year, on this day only, the iron pot in hell is opened for the deceased. Buddhist services are held at temples and private houses for ancestors, relatives and friends who died in the past, and particularly for those who passed away during the past year.
The particular feature of Obon is the offering various food stuff to the deceased, and of course all those who as emblem for the service will partake of special food prepared for the day. This is because Obon originated in a Buddhist legend.
Obon used to be quite an important social event, and for attending the family Obon service, such persons engaged in works away from their native places invariably returned home. To factory and shop apprentices or household maids, Obon and January 15 were only two holidays in the whole year, when they were permitted to return home to their parents.
The Obon observance has deep roots in Asian ancestor cult from India to Japan. It is based on the legend of the monk Mogallana's rescue of his mother from the hell of hungry ghosts. The story dramatizes the son's anxiety for his mother's welfare after her death and how it was resolved through Buddhist practice.
Practicing meditation, Mogallana gained spiritual insight and vision, which enabled him to see his mother's true condition. He then asked the Buddha how to free her from her suffering. The Buddha advised him to practice compassion and to give offerings to the monks. When his mother was released, Mogallana danced for joy. His response is regarded as the origin of the Bon dance.