Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Doll Festival

Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival), also known as, Girl's Day, is celebrated on March 3rd.

This is the day families pray for the happiness and prosperity of their girls and to help ensure that they grow up healthy and beautiful.

I was happy to see my friend's beautiful Hinamatsuri display in her living room.
It was a 3-tiered platform covered in red felt fabric (hi-mōsen) and was adorned with Japanese dolls representing the Emperor, Empress, Sake women, and various ornaments.

The doll displays can have many tiers, as many as 7, and can include other kinds of dolls, representing the Imperial Court.

My friend kindly explained the arrangement of her display to me:

While the dolls on the hina dan (Japanese platform) can have a different placement from right to left, or vice versa, the dolls displayed per level are always exact.

On the top tier, the imperial dolls represent the Emperor and Empress and are usually placed in front of a gold screen. She also has two silk lanterns (optional) decorated with cherry blossoms, one on each side of the stand.

The second tier represents three court women holding sake equipment, aka 'Sake Women', with the middle woman always sitting down.

The third tier, which is the last tier on her platform, has miniature furniture, a sword, and a carriage displayed.

Also on the bottom tier, one on each end, is a mandarin orange tree (Ukon no tachibana) and a cherry blossom tree (Sakon no sakura).

Most families set up their doll displays around mid-February and put them away immediately after Hina Matsuri is over. There is a superstition that says, families that are slow to put away their dolls will have trouble marrying their daughters off!

Since we don't have any girls, I am looking forward to Tango no Sekku (Boy's Day) on May 5th.
We'll honor Rowen and Arjun by flying multi-colored kites while drinking some coronas. We have to celebrate Cinco de Mayo too, right?

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