Tag Archives: Lanterns


Apologies, but this event is cancelled due to the COVID-19 virus.


Observed annually on the last Monday in May, Memorial Day or the Floating Lantern Day began in America as a holiday that originated in the years following the Civil War in the latter part of the 19th century. It held in remembrance to honour the fallen and became an official federal holiday in 1971.

Large lantern at Hawaiian boat style with many prayers

Hawaii took part in the remembrance each year by placing flowers and offerings on the gravesites of those who served their country, but also for other loved ones, friends, and family that had passed away too.

Known for its diverse population and culture, the Hawaiians adopted the remembrance but decided to do it in a different way. The first was held on Memorial Day 1999 when her holiness Shinso Ito, the head priest of Shinnyo, officiated the ceremony and was the first shinnyo-en lantern festival to be held outside of Japan. For the next three years, it was held at Ke’ehi Lagoon on the South shore of Oahu, until 2002, when the ceremony moved a few miles down the coast to Ala Moana Beach where it has remained and been observed ever since. Now held annually on Oahu’s south shore the annual floating lantern festival attracts over 50,000 locals and visitors to the beach to give a personal memory, reflect and give gratitude to them that have already left the planet.


If you are not lucky enough to attend the event, then you can also join the thousands of watchers all around the globe via the streaming a telecasting that’s available. If you happen to be in Hawaii and not be able to get to Ala Moana Beach Park, then you can still write down your remembrances and affirmations at a local Shinnyo-en temple or training centre. Submitting it online or through the lantern floating Hawaii website.

There is a special schedule to the day that is followed each year:

Shinnyo Taiko – This is a call to begin the celebration and this is from a large concha shell. This is a signal for everyone to join and offered as a prayer for peace with the hope that people reach out in the spirit of creating harmony to support one another.

Oli – A Hawaiian chant that calls the attention of all present to prepare their hearts to receive the importance of what is to come.

Hula – This is a visual of a song (mele) or chant (oli) through dance. Hawaiian language scholar Puakea Nogelmeier wrote “Ka lei moana” the encircling garland of the sea which has been shared at the ceremony every year.

The entrance of the main lanterns – This is where the six large lanterns that carry prayers for all spirits on behalf of all the people. These are offered to all victims of war, water-related incidents natural and manmade disasters, famine and disease. It is gratitude to all along with endangered and extinct plant and animal life. They are setting sail to encourage harmony and peace to all and everything in the world.

Light of Harmony – Community leaders from various sectors all come together in the spirit of friendship along with demonstrating their unified commitment to creating harmony amid diversity.

Blessing and transformation – Her holiness Shinso Ito blesses the ceremonial area along with the lanterns, and everyone participating in the ceremony local and from afar. This is prior to the floating of the lanterns.

An offering of food and water – This is to nourish the souls of those been remembered.

Strewing of the flower petals – Since ancient times the paths of loved ones have been covered in flower petals, the offering symbolises love and respect.

Shomyo – A chant that is a fusion of Buddhist and western choral harmony.

The ringing of the bell – The crystal clear sounds of the bell focus everyone’s thoughts and prayers and it rang by her holiness. It signifies that the floating of the lanterns is about to begin.

Floating of the lanterns – This is done at dusk and the lanterns are placed on the water with wishes of peace and happiness of loved one’s past while unveiling courage and hope in the hearts of those in the present.

There are different types of lanterns at the floating parade to be seen and it is a sight to behold as the water glows from the 7000 plus lanterns that are placed on them. This is a magical display of light and love and with the setting sun providing a magnificent backdrop something that you won’t want to miss.


Persian Fire Festival

The Persian Fire Festival or “Chahar Shanbeh Suri” as it is known locally is an annual and ancient holiday which takes place on the last Tuesday of the solar year.

The festival marks the start of the New Year in ancient Persia (known as Norruz) starts on 21st March which is also the first day of the astrological year and the first day of Spring.

Local revellers see in the New Year by jumping over bonfires. This practice is thought to be a sign of purification and fertility as outlined in the teachings of their faith.

The ancient Iranian religion Zoroastrianism, from at least 2nd Century BC (some records indicate that this should be 7th century BC but cannot be supported) pre-dates that of Islam and the main ethos of the faith is that mankind’s good deeds ensure that chaos or evil is kept at bay and water or more importantly fire (which were the second and last elements created) form a hugely important part of the religious ceremonies as they are both considered to be life sustainers.

They also light any number of lanterns which are of course sent high into the night skies.

It is referenced as a ‘pagan’ festival purely because of the fire and water references but they keep the bonfires alight from late evening and are kept going through the night to ‘keep the sun alive’ until the following break of dawn not unsimilar to those of most of the other non-deity worshippers.


Chinese Lantern Festival 2014

The Lantern Festival is one of the most important of five traditional celebrations in the Chinese calendar. Falling on the 15th day of the 1st month of the new Lunar Calendar and it marks the end of the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival celebrations.

The Lantern Festival is linked to religions/legends most of which can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220AD).

One of the earliest ‘Legends’ tells how the first Emperor initiated lavish ceremonies to worship the ‘gods of the heavens’ to unify his people and the celebrations should continue until the next day.

Like with all other Chinese cultural and belief systems, they are almost all closely connected to the natural world. One of the legends suggests that bright red lanterns were created and displayed to ‘trick’ the bad ‘gods’ into believing that the village was on fire and thereby escaping the wrath of the gods.

Along with the lanterns, the celebrations also include a sweet dumpling called Yuanxiao – it is a small, ball-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice flour/wheat flour with a filling inside. They are usually either boiled, steamed or fried and the round shape is said to symbolize family togetherness which of course is at the centre of the celebrations.

In ancient times, these sweet treats included honey, walnuts, sesame, rose petals, tangerine peel and dried fruits. Today, they are very similar and made to the same recipe tens of hundreds of years later. Further to this, they have added a savoury or ‘salty’ version made with minced beef and vegetables.

Over the years, Buddism and Daoism cultures were absorbed into the celebrations and gradually they spread throughout China.

Lantern parks are purpose-built all over China specifically for the festival. In ancient times the lanterns were usually made of bamboo covered with coloured silk or paper whereas today, whilst many are still made in the traditional way there are now a wide variety in plastic with wired frames as well as glass ones and even flashlight types.

The lantern parks attract literally tens of thousands to simply view the lanterns on display both during the daytime and later in the evening. Many of the lanterns also contain riddles which gathered friends and families will try to solve.

There are still a huge number of processions, involving children who carry these exceptionally beautiful lanterns through the streets of cities and villages across China.

Chap Goh Mei – 元 宵 节 快 乐