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Friday, August 18, 2000
It is bon dance night at the Haleiwa Jodo Mission and
dancers come from far and wide to enjoy the evening.

Dance the
night away

Haleiwa Jodo Mission
bon dance video

Bullet Celebrating the Obon
Bullet Bon Dance Bonds

By Dean Sensui
and Blaine Fergerstrom

At the end of a hot summer day in sleepy Haleiwa, families gather for picnics near the beach. Some stop at carnival-style food booths for nourishment or a cool treat.

It is all in preparation for the night ahead ...a night of dancing and remembrance.

It is bon dance night at the Haleiwa Jodo Mission, a Buddhist church on the beach next to Haleiwa Beach Park.
Musicians play Japanese taiko (drums) and other
percussion instruments to accompany the vocalists. online video
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People gather from far and wide to join in the merriment.

[Bon dance video footage.]

After hours of dancing to live and recorded music, attention shifts to the lanterns.

During the evening, church volunteers deliver paper lanterns to those who have ordered them.

The lanterns all bear the name of a deceased family member or friend and are lit by candle.


Bullet Listings in our Holiday Events calendar

Edmund Kellett of Kailua has been coming to the Haleiwa Jodo Mission bon dance for 10 years.

Interview, Edmund Kellett: Who are the lanterns for?
Kellett: My father, my aunt and my other aunt.
SB: Do you do this every year?
EK: Last 10 years, yeah.
SB: (Do) You live on this side (Haleiwa)?
EK: Kaneohe side...
SB: And you come all the way over here for this?
EK: Well, it's the only place they float lanterns, huh?
SB: They do one down on the Ala Wai (Canal in Waikiki).
EK: Oh yeah, in the Ala Wai, but I don't want to put them (the lanterns) in the Ala Wai!
EK: Oh, this is for my father-in-law, and his brother...
EK: We're doing seven this year. Usually four or five, but seven this year...
The lanterns are floated in remembrance of departed loved ones.
Each one bears the name of the person being remembered.

The lanterns will be floated out to sea in a ceremony called "Toro Nagashi."

At the appointed moment, temple priests lead a procession from the church to the beach.

The procession is followed by a boat bearing a large lantern. The boat is floated to lead the procession of lanterns out to sea.

A priest lights the lanterns of a chosen church member. Another church member helps to float them.

Everyone else then joins in floating their lanterns, remembering departed loved ones as they do.
Thousands of paper lanterns float out to sea.

One by one, hundreds, thousands of lanterns join the flotilla of souls.

Then everyone pauses quietly on the beach to watch and remember.

Though thousands of people line the beach, only the sound of the water lapping the shore and an occasional child's voice can be heard.

This is Blaine Fergerstrom reporting for

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