151. Grant for Safe Childbirth (obiya yurushi)
In the autumn of 1884, Kunisaburo Moroi requested the Grant for Safe Childbirth for the sake of his fourth child. Oyasama was going to wrap the small sugar candies in a sheet of paper Herself to prepare the Grant when Naokichi Takai, who happened to be there, said, “Please allow me to do it for you.” He cut the paper and folded it, but it was crooked. As Oyasama watched him fold the paper, She said neither that it was good nor bad. Then, Oyasama took out a sheet of paper quietly and said:
“May I have a pair of scissors?”
One of the attendants handed a pair to Her, and Oyasama cut the paper squarely. Then She brought out about one hundred and fifty grams of small sugar candies. She put three candies on each of the three sheets of paper and wrapped them, saying:
“This is for the Grant for Safe Childbirth. A high pillow or a binder is not necessary. And, as this is the season of persimmons, do not be afraid to eat them.”
Oyasama then granted Moroi the rest of the candies, saying:
“These are also sacred gifts. Wrap them with three pieces each and give them to anyone who wishes to have them.”
Anecdotes of Oyasama, p. 123
Happy New Year 2011, the Year of the Wabbit!
Anecdotes no. 151 comes across to me as a story that helps remind followers that there is a significant difference between the regular sacred gifts and the sacred gifts for the Grant of Safe Childbirth. In no. 151, the sacred candies that were wrapped in the paper that was cut crooked became regular sacred gifts while the ones that were personally wrapped by Oyasama became the sacred gifts for the Grant of Safe Childbirth.
There is a marked difference between how the regular sacred gifts (which usually come in the form of uncooked rice grains today) and the sacred rice for the Grant of Safe Childbirth are presently prepared. Regular sacred gifts are comprised of rice grains that were offered to Oyasama at the Foundress’ Sanctuary in Jiba.
To compare, the sacred rice for the Grant of Safe Childbirth are prepared by offering them in packets placed on top and beside the Kanrodai. These packets are then blessed with a performance of the Service for Safe Childbirth, usually done at night after the evening service on the 24th or 25th of a non-Grand Service month (i.e., not January or October). The Service for Safe Childbirth is usually done twice or three times a year, depending on the how much properly blessed Safe Childbirth sacred rice is in “stock,” so to speak. The most recent time it was conducted was on August 24, 2010.
There is nothing about the packages for either the regular sacred rice or sacred rice for the Grant of Safe Childbirth that helps differentiate one from the other. Thus, whenever the Grant of Safe Childbirth (only available at Jiba with an application) is bestowed, the minister that does so will often give a warning not to mistake the packets with the regular sacred rice.
When she bestows the Grant of Safe Childbirth in Anecdotes no. 151, Oyasama is described saying: “This is for the Grant for Safe Childbirth. A high pillow or a binder is not necessary. And, as this is the season of persimmons, do not be afraid to eat them.”
Using a high pillow during childbirth (women often sat up during delivery) or wearing a binder (to prevent the fetus’ head from growing too large and cause a difficult delivery) were among several prevailing superstitions regarding pregnancy and childbirth in the late 19th century Japan.
Regarding the prohibition on persimmons for pregnant women, it was believed that eating them caused jaundice in the infant. When bestowing the Grant, Oyasama did her best to dispel such superstitions and give expectant mothers peace of mind as childbirth approached.
(on Moroi Kunisaburo)
(on Grant of Safe Childbirth)
External links (Tenrikyo Online)