Thursday, March 19, 2015

Carpe Diem #690: Higan (Equinox)

Hello everyone!   This is Paloma from Blog It or Lose It, and I am helping Chèvrefeuille for the weekend while he enjoys some time with his family and friends.  It’s an honor to be able to help out – and once again – I’m sending a big **thank you** to Chèvrefeuille.  He is enormously busy with Carpe Diem Haiku Kai, Tanka Shrine, Family, and Shuukan – and recently – with the Fairy Tale prompt!  Thank you for sharing your love of haiku with so many people!


For today we’re looking at the Higan festival.  This is a theme Carpe Diem first visited in March of 2013.  Those of you who live in the Southern Hemisphere will be happy to learn that Higan is celebrated for one week in March (Haru Higan) and for one week in September (Aki Higan) – it is a celebration of the Equinox – in which there are equal periods of day and night.   

The term “Ohigan” means “the other shore” or “the shore of Sanzu River”.  In Buddhist literature, this refers to leaving the shore of ignorance and suffering and crossing to the shore of Enlightenment.

Haran no Higan lasts for seven days in March, but “Shunbun no hi” is celebrated on the actual day of the equinox.  On this day, people visit their hometown and tend the graves of their ancestors:

“To help their ancestors make the crossing, family members visit the cemetery to pray, weed graves, wash tombstones, light incense and leave flowers.  According to tradition, food, in the form of ohagi or botamochi (sweet rice balls covered with red bean paste), is left to help nourish their ancestors journey to the next world.” 
Farmers may use this day to pray for an abundant crop, and there is a folk saying related to higan:

Atsusa samusa mo Higan ma de
[“Heat and cold last until Higan”]

But – as you know – Mother Nature doesn’t care much for folk sayings – as Issa points out in this haiku:

"fair weather by Spring's Equinox"
so they say …

© Issa

Here are some haiku about Higan to inspire you:

walking on and on
among the endless
blooming higan flowers  

a lone crow
pensive on its perch
spring equinox

Here is an Aki Higan haiku for the folks in the Southern Hemisphere:

autumn equinox -
the dead old relatives
visit my dream

© 2006 – Gabi Greve

And of course here is a spring haiku that is part of a series by Chèvrefeuille:

                celebrating the sun
                with narcissus flowers in my hair -
                Spring Equinox

                © Chèvrefeuille

What can I write about higan and the equinox?

There's also this slightly more cheerful haiku - but I didn't have a photo to turn this into haiga:

toddler’s joy:
Daddy’s home before dark
on the equinox 

Probably not my best, but hopefully they will trigger some thoughts about Higan.  :)

This episode is open for your submissions from March 19th, 7 PM (CET) and will remain open until March 23rd, at noon (CET).   


  1. Pleasure to read.
    Thank you. Hope the equinox does its duty in your area :-)

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, GF :)
      Sadly, Issa was quite right. They're expecting another 4 inches of snow here overnight. :P

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  2. Very nice challenge and information, Paloma. Thank you for 'filling in' for our host for his time off days.

    1. Hi Janice - Always glad to help Chevrefeuille have a bit of a break! :)
      Thanks so much --

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  4. Thanks Paloma! I'd never heard about this aspect of spring .. delightful - my congratulations on a very great post - Thanks for all your work! Bastet

    1. Glad you enjoyed it :)
      Chevrefeuille helped with some of the background information -- I wasn't very knowledgeable about Higan but it is a wonderful tradition. :)

  5. A very nice post, and nice formula you have with Chevrefeuille - it is nice to think of him getting a break, and really, who else could step in with such quality! Your haiga is most suitable, with clarity of image that goes past the photo. Chevrefeuille's paints a nice image in his haiku of being at one with nature.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Hamish -- Chev does such an amazing job -- very glad to provide a break now and again. Really though -- with your insight and your unique perspective - you should consider it too. Even if it's just a day.

      I'm so glad - relieved, actually - that the haiga worked so well.

      And there's such joy in Chev's union with nature, isn't there?

  6. Paloma.....nice job....The information you provided made the writing task easy.....thanks...

    1. Thanks Opie -- Chevrefeuille helped with background information -- I was new to Higan too. Glad you enjoyed the post :)

  7. I had not noticed you were our host, so correction in my comment, my dear, your haiga is truly beautiful and speaks to me. Thanks for such a great post with so much information. It certainly inspires us to write with thoughts of these great masters of haiku.

    1. Your haiga is beautiful, Cheryl-Lynn -- it's great that the post inspired you :)

  8. This one challenged me but I reall enjoyed it. Thanks for the interesting and educational nature of this/these prompts.

    1. Very glad you enjoyed it -- I loved your haiga, and what a wonderful image!
      Here's to spring! :)