Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Day of the Crab - Owl Clan Rice Festival

This past weekend was the 4th of July and the weekend edition of the Mesa Republic was, as expected, primarily concerned with the holiday. I read it today because I was busy all weekend.

The Owl Clan goes out of its way to support their neighbors and family, the Crab (the Owl are situated at the north end of Crab lands and the daimyo's wife is a Kaiu samurai-ko). The Owl understand and deeply appreciate the sacrifices the Crab make on behalf of the Empire and this festival is part of their effort to give back to the Crab.

The Day of the Crab is a combination of Memorial Day and Independence Day. It takes place in late spring or early summer after the rice harvest (going by a website that cites the rice growing season for southern Thailand, planting occurs September to November while harvesting occurs in March through May). All Owl, from the daimyo to the eta, refrain from regular work in honor of the holiday. In the morning, the Owl rise and pay their respects to the fallen Crab.

Incense is lit in their honor as lists of that year's dead as well as stories of Crab heroes who have died in battle are read aloud amongst each family (some Owl families adopt particular parts of the Kaiu Wall and focus on warriors who served there). The air of mourning and the gravity of heartbreak give way to the day's labors as the portion of Owl rice destined for Crab lands is gathered at Shiro Ryujoji along with other Owl gifts (raw materials like iron ore, linen, lumber, etc along with finished gifts like armor, clothing, and supplies).

Immediately following this gathering, the Owl adopt a spirit of joviality as they enjoy the afternoon and evening festival. The Owl eat, sing, dance, and compete to enjoy the day more than any of their brethren. Having paid their respects to the dead and having gathered their gifts for the coming year, the Owl celebrate, for only by enjoying the life of safety and freedom the Crab have given them can the Owl truly honor their sacrifices.

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