Hina matsuri or doll festival or girl’s day, is a festival for girls which is held on 3rd March every year. It is also called ‘Joshi no Sekku, ‘Momo no Sekku’ or ‘Sangatsu Sekku’. This day is also known as ‘Momo no Sekku’ as the peach flowers start to bloom around this period. On this day, the members of the family pray for the health, happiness and prosperity of girls of the family. Now this has become a tradition to dispaly Hina-Ningyo or the Hina dolls on this day. This festivity dates back to the Edo era when these dolls were specifically used to ward off evil spirits back in those days.
Hina-Ningyo dolls consists of around 15 dolls that are seated on red cloth underneath them with a Heian period setting. They generally have a 5-7 tier setting with the bottom or the 7th tier displaying the items that the emperor and the empress use while they are away from the comforts of the palace; on the 6th tier, items that are used in the palace are displayed; on the 5th tier, dolls of helpers of the palace are displayed; on the 4th tier, dolls of ministers are displayed; on the 3rd tier, dolls of male musicians are displayed; on the 2nd tier, dolls of ladies of the court are displayed; and on the top or the 1st tier, imperial dolls or the dolls of the emperor and the empress are displayed.
Families celebrate it by having a meal together, eating ‘Hishimochi’ or ‘diamond shaped rice cakes’ and drink ‘Shirozake’, that is made of rice malt and sake. Although the customs differ slightly from region to region, the main gist of celebrating this festival remains the same.