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Silver Wind
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PostSubject: Sumo wrestling   Fri Jan 04, 2008 10:35 am

Sumo wrestling began as a Shinto ritual to pray for a bountiful harvest. Introduced into ceremonies of the Imperial Court sometime in the Nara Era (8th century). Most modern-day Sumo traditions were developed under the patronage of the court. In the Edo Era, professional sumo groups were organized to entertain the rapidly expanding merchant class. Above the modern-day sumo ring is a canopy with Shinto attributes (looks like a mini-shrine). The tossing of salt before individual bouts (a purification rite), and the opening and closing Sumo ceremonies, all reflect Sumo's Shinto origin.

Salt is scattered in quantity by sumo wrestlers before each bout to purify themselves and the sumo ring (dohyo). The dohyo is considered a sacred place, and regrettably women are not allowed to enter it because they are considered impure. Huh? Shinto revers the Sun Goddess Amaterasu, so I am not sure why this bias against women continues to exist. One young female wrestler who won a regional sumo competition for primary school children was not allowed to enter the professional ring to collect her prize from a famous pro wrestler. Approximately 45 kilos of salt are scattered every day at national sumo tournaments.

http://www.onmarkproductions.com/html/shinto-concepts.shtml#sumo

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