|(image credits: top, discoverhawaii/flickr;|
Taking place along the shores of Ala Moana Beach and Magic Island since 2002, prayers and messages for the dead and suffering are drifted out to sea on floating lanterns. Keehi Lagoon served as the site for the event from 1999-2001. This year a total of 3,000 lanterns were launched, the most for the event ever. Over 40,000 lined the shores this evening as the first lantern was dedicated to the victims of March's earthquake and tsunami in Japan. For many the tradition serves as an act of letting go and remembrance.
The Lantern Floating is open to everyone regardless of nationality, race, faith or lifestyle. One unique aspect of the event is it combines the observance of the upcoming Obon season and Memorial Day. In July or August, Buddhists welcome the spirits of deceased loved ones and ancestors with bon dances and other Obon traditions. Prior to the launch of lanterns was a series of speeches, songs, hula, traditional Buddhist chant and western choral music.
Visit lanternfloatinghawaii.com for information about the tradition and future events.