1,000 and glowing
More than 1,000 floating lanterns will be released at Ala Moana Beach on Memorial Day
LANTERN floating might have originated in Japan, but locally it has turned into a multicultural affair. More than 1,000 floating lanterns will be released at Ala Moana Beach on Memorial Day during the ninth annual festival.
The Buddhist tradition provides an opportunity to pray for loved ones who have died and reflect on recent tragedies. The lanterns are set afloat to "transport spirits from the shore of delusion to the shore of salvation," while also conveying a message of world peace and harmony.
COURTESY NA LEI ALOHA FOUNDATION
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LANTERN FLOATING CEREMONY
Ala Moana Beach Park
6:30 p.m. May 28; individuals may request consolatory prayers from 1 to 6 p.m. at the remembrance tent.
Prayer requests are free but donations are accepted. Proceeds will be used to help beautify Ala Moana Beach Park.
Free shuttle service will run from 4 to 6 p.m. between the park and Hawaii Convention Center; also, volunteers are needed from 1 to 4 p.m. May 19 to help assemble lanterns at Shinnyo-en Hawaii, 2348 S. Beretania St.
"LANTERNS OF RESPECT"
Lantern ceremony photo exhibit:
» Place: Honolulu Hale Lane Gallery
» Time: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. May 21 to 24
» Call: 942-1848
"It's important for all cultures and people to come together for this event," said Chieko Steele, program officer at Na Lei Aloha Foundation.
Differences in religion and race don't matter in wanting to participate, said Roy Ho, executive director of Na Lei Aloha Foundation. "Everybody has ancestors. We are trying to reach out to the next generation."
The first local floating-lantern ceremony was held at Keehi Lagoon in 1999.
"Hawaii is different from other places, and that may be the reason it was chosen as the first place outside of Japan to hold the lantern floating ceremony," said Ho.
"Hawaii is a place of healing ... not just because of the aloha spirit, but also because they honor ancestors, the land and spirit."
Thousands of volunteers work to put together the wooden-and-foam bases, recycled each year, to float individuals' prayers onto the water. Requests to be included come from all over the world, from Atlanta to Sydney and Bangladesh.
More volunteers are needed to help assemble lanterns from 1 to 4 p.m. May 19 at Shinnyo-en Hawaii, 2348 S. Beretania St.
"Two hundred people are needed just to release the lanterns from the shore," Steele said. Several canoe crews are also dispatched to collect the lanterns at the ceremony's end.
Iolani School students and veterans in rehabilitation programs at Tripler Hospital created remembrance cards for the occasion, allowing participants to take home something special.
"The whole purpose is to get the community involved, as much as possible," Ho said.
After all of the lanterns are collected, the handwritten prayers are sent to Japan where they are ritually burned.
In watching the event grow, Steele noted similarities between the ways Hawaiians and Japanese honor their ancestors.
"It's a perfect fit," she said. "If we can focus on that and bring people together, we are meeting one of our goals."