New Year’s Day Service
New Year’s Day Service of Church Headquarters, ushering in the 164th year of the Teaching, was conducted in the Main Sanctuary, with the Shinbashira presiding and large numbers of followers attending in the four worship halls. It commenced at five o’clock on the relatively mild New Year’s morning as the Shinbashira and the other Service performers filed into the Main Sanctuary to the accompaniment of gagaku music.
The Shinbashira went on to ascend the dais to deliver the service prayer, in which he thanked God the Parent for the blessings that were received over the course of the previous year, designated by Tenrikyo as a “year for implementation,” during which all followers strove to make genuine progress in single-hearted salvation. The Shinbashira continued: “As befits the beginning of this new year, which marks the time to step up our implementation, we are determined to respond to Your hastening by building sincerity in spreading the teachings and saving others with a fresh, open, and spacious mind.”
By the time the Dance with Hand Movements commenced, the eastern sky had begun to brighten. Though the north wind started blowing into the worship halls, it did not seem to bother the followers, who were absorbed in singing the songs that accompanied the Service.
Following the performance of the Service, the Shinbashira proceeded to the Foundress’ Sanctuary, accompanied by the other Service performers, in order to offer Oyasama his New Year’s greetings, in which he expressed, on behalf of all followers, the resolution to be thorough in performing the work of salvation in a unity of mind and with a heightened awareness of being Oyasama’s instruments.
The annual Sechi Festival was held at Jiba from January 5 to 7. This festival, the traditional New Year’s event at the Home of the Parent, is said to have started in 1874, when Oyasama shared the New Year’s offerings of rice cakes with followers.
Anyone is welcome to partake in the Sechi Festival. This year, 107,115 people returned to Jiba during the three-day period to be treated to zoni, roasted rice cakes served with greens in a clear broth. Approximately 27,000 kilograms of rice cakes and 1,150 liters of sake were served, and 11,000 kilograms of charcoal were used for roasting the rice cakes. A total of 13,800 kilograms of greens were sorted, boiled, washed with cold water to preserve the rich color, and then cut into 4.5 cm lengths to be put into the zoni. During the three days, about 48,000 liters of the clear broth was consumed. Preparations for the broth, which is said to be one of the reasons for the festival’s popularity, had been started about two months before the festival.
On the morning of December 30, about 44,800 kilograms of rice cakes were carried into the Main Sanctuary to be placed on the four corners of the dais as offerings for the New Year’s. These rice cakes were taken down on January 4 and sliced by 1,700 people in the North and West Worship Halls. The Sechi Festival was supported by 5,500 people, including Church Headquarters’ staff, Shuyoka students, and high school and college students.