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Bon Dance Is Going To College

As part of its 40th anniversary celebration, Windward Community College will have its first- ever bon dance this week- end in front of the new library and on the Great Lawn where a large crowd is expected.

Unlike other island obon festivals that wound down last month, the college is prepared to educate, feed and entertain the public anew one more time — from 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday, complete with dance lessons and cultural activities.

“We are enthused to … bring campus and community together to honor the past and to work for the future, while learning and having fun in the process,” said chancellor Doug Dykstra.

Settling in front of Hale La‘akea Library Learning Commons with parking nearby, the festival opens at 4 p.m. with dance lessons for beginners, including the history and tradition of obon, which pays homage to spirits of the departed. Also planned are a talk and lessons in the Hanafuda card game with Helen Nakano, Choba (memorial donations) and WCC information booth, special hours at Gallery ‘Iolani (3 to 6 p.m.) to view “Confluence 3,” and tours of the college’s medicinal plant garden.

Food booths open at 5, selling a variety of island favorites plus non-GMO corn freshly harvested from the UH experimental station in Waimanalo. A Procession for Peace begins at 5:30, followed by an opening oli and blessing, and then addresses from Dykstra and from college co-founder and early WCC administrator Keiji “Kuki” Kukino at 5:45. Kukino also is president of Kailua Hongwanji, which is providing the bon dance yagura.

Dancing around the yagura (bon odori) runs from 6 to 9 with the Ewa Fukushima and Lanakila and Jikoen bon dance groups, Young Okinawans of Hawaii, a lion dance by YOH Shishi Mai and recordings from the Kaneohe Sukiyaki Bon Dance Group.

Sponsors and donors are welcome to join in this celebration, which doubles as a fundraiser for the school. For more information, call Dorene Niibu at 235-7402 or email dniibu@hawaii.edu.