Participants of Kuakini’s Adult Day Care Center located at the St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Aiea celebrated the Obon Festival on July 24 with dancing and music led by the Paranku Group from Pearl City. Obon is the Buddhist tradition of paying respect and expressing gratitude to loved ones who have passed away.
Participants joined the circle of more than 30 Paranku dancers, with encouragement and assistance from the Kuakini staff, while others happily stayed in their seats and followed the beat by tapping on their mini Paranku drums.
Paranku is a hand-held, tambourine-like instrument that is used for performing Okinawan dances. The Paranku Group uses the Paranku and the Taiko, another type of percussion instrument, during their performances.
The group has been performing at the Aiea Day Care Center for the past ten years. They have also performed for residents of Kuakini Home, the Skilled Nursing Facility and the Intensive Care Facility on the Kuakini campus.
“We like to share our culture especially to the elderly, like a service project. We like coming here,” said Ellen Higa, a long-time member of the Paranku Group. Ellen has been dancing with the group for 25 years.
Members of the group, whose ages range from 42 to 91, are energetic and lively. Most are retirees and they welcome anybody interested in everything Okinawan to join their group.