Shibasashi keeps majimun away

Category: [ CULTURE ] Category: [ Okinawa Series ]

When you walk around in Okinawa, you might have seen a bundle of tied leaves at a corner of a house. These bundles are called “shiba” and “san,” the big one being “shiba” and the small “san”.

Around August of the lunar calendar, it’s said that majimun (マジムン), an evil ghost or monster, appears and aims to harm people. On August 10th of the lunar calendar, an annual event “Shibasashi (シバサシ)” takes place. After the Bon(旧盆) of the lunar calendar, people in Okinawa put “Shiba” on the four corners of the house, on both sides of the door or in the mouth of shisa, believing that they ward off majimun and other evil spirits. This custom is called Shibasashi (シバ差し).

“Shiba” bundle is tied of “susuki” and mulberry grass, although sometimes only susuki grass is used. Susuki and mulberry grass are used because susuki is considered a symbol of high fertility and its shape resembles rice. The susuki leaves are sharp and resemble a sword. That has led people to believe that susuki has power to keep majimun away.

Mulberry is also believed to have power to keep majimun away and also believed to protect against thunder. An old folk tale tells about mulberry tree and thunder that a long time ago, Kaminari-sama (雷様), the thunder spirit, fell down from the sky onto a mulberry tree, got stuck and died under the tree. Since that, it is said that Kaminari-sama and his thunderbolts try to avoid the mulberry tree. There is even a spell which people use in a thunderstorm, “Kwaagi-nu-shicha (クヮーギヌシチャ),” meaning “Let’s go under the mulberry tree, (so a thunderbolt will not hit us.)”

The shibasashi custom takes place on “hachigachi-kashichii (ハチガチカシチー、八月強飯) when people pray for sound health. They cook hard rice and place a food offering on the family altar. With the offerings and shiba on the four corners of the house, people should be safe from the majimun.

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