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POSTED: Saturday, May 16, 2009

Lantern ritual combines spirituality and spectacle

A Buddhist tradition of remembering ancestors is combined with a free public show featuring local entertainers in the annual Lantern Floating Ceremony at Magic Island.

The is the 10th year of the Memorial Day event sponsored by Na Lei Aloha Foundation, an affiliate of the Tokyo-based Buddhist organization Shinnyo-En. The annual ceremony has captured the imagination of island residents, drawing several thousand people to the entertainment and picturesque sunset service.

A registration booth will open at 1 p.m. May 25 at Ala Moana Beach Park for people who wish to inscribe names of dead friends and family members on 1,200 lanterns available to the public. Free parking will be available at the Hawai'i Convention Center, with a shuttle service in operation after 4 p.m.

The Rev. Shinsho Ito, head of the Shinnyo-En sect, will lead the service beginning at 6:30 p.m. Volunteers will set about 2,000 lanterns adrift at sunset and retrieve them later offshore.