Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Lantern Floating Ceremony - Ala Moana Beach Park, Hawaii

For the last 12 years, the Lantern Floating Ceremony has been a tradition at Ala Moana Beach Park, where friends and family honor loved one's who have passed. It's a humbling, if not touching event that will move you. 

Nearly 40,000 people attended the event on Memorial Day, as friends and family gathered along the shore line to set lanterns a float on the calm waters at Ala Moana Beach Park, as the sun slowly set. On every lantern, there is a message, prayer, or wish being "sent" to loved ones, as friends and family write personal messages to honor those who have passed.  

As I stood knee-deep in water at the shore line with other photographers, desperately searching for the best spot to take photos, I started to observe the people around me.  I quickly noticed, men, women, and children weeping throughout the crowd, as they remembered their own loved ones.  Although I had only come to take photos and observe the event, it began to move me, as I began to appreciate the significance of the Lantern Floating Ceremony, an event that promotes peace among human beings.

As friends and family gathered around the shoreline ready to set their lanterns a float, I noticed a young boy, crying as he held his. You could feel the emotion in the air, as hundreds and thousands of people at Ala Moana Beach park silently waited for the moment they could finally release their lanterns into the water.

Before the event took a place, there was an elegantly presented Buddhist style ceremony, while there also had been entertainment, to include the lighting of an "enternal fire," prayer, and singing.

Hundreds began to set foot in water as they began releasing their lanterns.  One by one, the amount of lanterns began to grow, softly floating a top the water, illuminating the sea.

Happy Memorial Day!


  1. This event looks so much like the Chinese one we used to have in the mid-August. The floating light is supposed to direct the soul to the other world. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Lovely! I've been to the Bon Festival in Haleiwa a couple times. It's so beautiful watching the lanterns float out to sea.

    I wonder where they end up, though. Do they wash ashore somewhere else? Or eventually sink underwater? Hmm.

  3. Eleni, it was so beautiful. Actually, there are people on canoes who make sure the lanterns are picked up and don't float out to the sea. Thank goodness! =)

    John, I would love to see the one in China. In Japan, they also have obon in August with similar traditions. =)

  4. Do they collect the lanterns after? They have to right? I've never seen a clean-up of the lanterns though. Thanks for sharing :)

  5. Kyle, I saw the people in the canoes picking them up, placing them inside, so I assume that's how they do clean-up. =) I don't think they could let it float or else it would be considering littering (at least I hope).


Thank you for your comments!


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