On April 18, the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service was performed to commemorate the everliving Oyasama’s 222nd birthday in the Main Sanctuary and the Foundress’ Sanctuary of Tenrikyo Church Headquarters with Successor-Designate Daisuke Nakayama presiding as chief officiant.
Those who attended sang the Mikagura-uta, the songs for the Service, with their minds in unison, and others who adore the Parent of the Divine Model celebrated Oyasama’s birthday from afar around the world—from their churches, fellowships, or homes.
On March 27, as the novel coronavirus pandemic was prompting many countries including Japan to take measures to prevent the further spread of the virus, Church Headquarters announced that the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service would be attended only by the head ministers of directly supervised churches and the heads of dioceses on behalf of all other followers.
Furthermore, on April 17, the day after Japan expanded a state of emergency to include the entire nation, Church Headquarters issued an immediate notice to urge the heads of directly supervised churches and dioceses to refrain from returning to Jiba.
On April 18, the Service was attended only by the Service performers and directly supervised church and diocese heads who had already been in Jiba by the 17th.
At 7:30 a.m. on Oyasama’s birthday, an announcement was made over loudspeakers in the Sanctuary precincts regarding the special arrangements for attendance at the Service. At 8:00 a.m., Honbu-jun’in and Honbu-seinen (Church Headquarters’ senior and junior officials, respectively), as well as staff members of the Precincts Section, were standing at entrances to the Sanctuary precincts to greet followers who brought offerings to Oyasama. These officials and staff members escorted them to the Attendants’ Room of the Foundress’ Sanctuary to help them deliver their offerings, such as birthday cakes, clothes, and message cards.
At 9:35 a.m., Successor-Designate Daisuke Nakayama and other Service performers left the Staff Quarters. After they paid their respects to Oyasama at the Foundress’ Sanctuary, they sang together “Oyasama’s Birthday Celebration Song” in front of the altar. They then proceeded to the Memorial Hall and to the Main Sanctuary, where the Shinbashira, who is recuperating, joined in worshiping together inside the partition bars.
In the Service prayer, Rev. Daisuke Nakayama said: “We, the Service performers, would now like to conduct the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service by performing the Kagura Service and the Dance with Hand Movements with our joyful minds in unison. Only follower representatives are assembled before You today in light of the current situation, but we would like to celebrate Oyasama’s birthday together with all followers of the path in the world, who express their gratitude for Your daily workings from afar. All of us—who have taken to heart Oyasama’s fifty-year path of saving others—are determined to let go of human thinking at this difficult time and to focus our minds more sharply on bringing ourselves into accord with Your intention.”
After the joyous performance of the Kagura Service, the Shinbashira and his wife, Harue, as well as Successor-Designate Daisuke Nakayama and his wife, Nobue, proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary to serve a meal to the everliving Oyasama.
There was no sermon after the performance of the Service. Successor-Designate Nakayama read a prayer to Oyasama in the Foundress’ Sanctuary. After extending words of celebration, he said, “All of us followers, as Your instruments, will deepen our joy of being used for the work of this path, be fully aware of our responsibility, and dedicate our true and utmost sincerity to the construction of the joyous world.”
This year, the annual “Joyous Chorus” and other celebratory events were canceled.
Worship and Celebration around the World
To celebrate this day, worship sessions and other celebratory events were held at such places as local churches and fellowships.
At some places, followers celebrated Oyasama’s birthday while viewing the scenery of Jiba broadcast through a live camera, which was available on Tenrikyo’s official website. At Oyamada Branch Church, which is located in Osaka Prefecture, a big screen was set up inside the worship hall. Looking at the image of the Main Sanctuary and the Foundress’ Sanctuary projected onto the screen, Rev. Michiharu Okita and his family performed the seated service and the dance with hand movements, which comprises the Eight Verses of the Yorozuyo and the Twelve Songs.
Rev. Okita said: “For the March Monthly Service, as well, we held a worship session while viewing the scenery of Jiba in the same way. I used to return to Jiba every month, and now I feel once again how blessed we were to be able to worship in Jiba anytime we wanted. I am looking forward to the day when I can return to Jiba with all the Yoboku and followers who are connected to my church. In the meantime, I intend to keep my spirits up each day.”
There were also churches where their head ministers and their family members performed the service using the audio of the songs for the Service during the same hour as the Oyasama Birth Celebration Service being held at Church Headquarters. At other churches, followers offered handmade birthday cakes in front of the shrine of Oyasama on Her birthday.
Also, at overseas mission headquarters, mission stations, and churches, their residents celebrated Oyasama’s birthday by performing the service, singing “Oyasama’s Birthday Celebration Song,” and offering a birthday cake to Oyasama, who had turned 222.