Lantern Floating Hawaii

Lantern Floating Hawaii
Photo: lanternfloatinghawaii.com
Lantern Floating Hawaii is an annual ceremony held on Memorial Day at Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu, Hawaii. Founded in 1999 as a small interfaith event, it has since grown to become one of the largest Memorial Day observations in the United States. Each year thousands of floating lanterns are launched by people from various cultures and traditions in remembrance of loved ones who have passed.

Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed on the last Monday of May. It originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War. On this day, Americans decorated the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. Over the years, it has transformed into a day of remembering all American men and women who gave their lives in service of their country.

Memorial Day is marked with solemn ceremonies and parades held throughout the United States. But only the state of Hawaii has a unique tradition of observing Memorial Day with a beautiful and heartwarming floating lantern ceremony. Every year thousands of people gather at Ala Moana Beach Park to honor the memory of their loved ones and pray for a better future.

Lantern Floating Hawaii was founded in 1999 by Her Holiness Shinso Ito, the head of Shinnyo-en, a school of esoteric Buddhism founded in Japan in 1930s. However, it is not a Buddhist ceremony. It is an interfaith event for people of all faiths and cultures. Originally held at Ke’ehi Lagoon, it was moved to Ala Moana Beach in 2002 and has been held there every year since.

The commencement of the ceremony is marked by the sounding of the pū (Hawaiian conch shell). It is followed by prayers, Hawaiian chants and ritual dance. The next element of the ceremony is the entrance of six large Main Lanterns that carry prayers for victims of war, natural and manmade disasters, water-related accidents, disease and famine.

After that, community leaders demonstrate their unified commitment to creating harmony amid diversity by lightning the Light of Harmony. The ritual is followed by a blessing, symbolic offering of food and water, scattering of lower petals, and shomyo (an eclectic chant that combines Western choral harmony and traditional Buddhist chant).

Finally, the sound of the bell signifies that it’s time to float the lanterns. People in attendance place thousands of lanterns onto the Pacific Ocean. This beautiful ritual brings together over 40,000 people from all backgrounds, giving them an opportunity to heal their grief and pray for a harmonious and peaceful future.

Lantern Floating Hawaii


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