Basic Terms of Shinto 神道基本用語集

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Text Worship, festival. An occasion for offering prayers, thanksgiving, reports, and praise to a deity or deities. A matsuri "festival" generally starts with solemn rituals, which are followed by joyous community celebrations. The rituals center around the presentation of shinsen or food offerings, the recitation of norito, music, and worship, and are followed by a communion feast called naorai. The joyous community celebrations may include a procession with the deity, dancing, dramatic performances, sumo wrestling, and feasting. Matsuri are closely related to the cycle of agricultural seasons. Farmers begin cultivation in the early spring by praying for plentiful crops, and in autumn they offer thanksgiving for a plentiful harvest and present the fruits of the harvest to the gods. The word matsurigoto is an ancient word used to refer both to government and worship, reflecting the attitude that humans should follow the will of the gods in political life. This idea is expressed in the term saisei itchi, meaning "unity of worship and rule." Saishi is the Sino-Japanese word for matsuri, while saigi means the ceremonies held during matsuri, and saiten encompasses the entire matsuri, both the ceremonies and the community celebration.