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Thousands float lanterns at Ala Moana Beach Park

By Michael Tsai

LAST UPDATED: 01:54 a.m. HST, May 28, 2013

Special Section: 15th Annual Lantern Floating Hawaii

Tens of thousands of residents and visitors gathered at Ala Moana Beach Park this evening to remember loved ones lost, and pray for a peaceful future as part of the 15th annual Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony.

Presented under the theme, “Many Rivers, One Ocean” — a nod to the nondenominational nature of the event, the evening featured Hawaiian chant, taiko drums, and Japanese harmony and purification ceremonies.

The highlight was the release of 5,000 lighted lanterns, each personalized with messages to friends and family of the participants.

“It’s awesome to be a part of this,” said 53-year-old Rudy Miguel of Kapahulu. “There are people from all over, but we’re all here for the same thing. We’ve all lost loved ones. We share common feelings.”

The Japanese Buddhist sect Shinnyo-en organizes the ceremony to remember loved ones who have passed.

In Japan, the centuries-old tradition is generally observed in July or August to coincide with obon, the season when ancestors are honored. In Hawaii, Shinnyo-en holds a ceremony on Memorial Day to help it gain wider public acceptance.

Some participants say the ritual helps them cope with loss, as though physically setting lanterns afloat enables them to spiritually let go of someone they're mourning.

Afterwards, the lanterns are collected and restored for future use.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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serious wrote:
Great event--I never miss it. This year it's in honor of a good friend who was killed in an avalanche in April.
on May 27,2013 | 06:46AM
allie wrote:
great PR event for this wealthy Buddhist sect.
on May 27,2013 | 09:06AM
2disgusted2 wrote:
Oh Phooey allie! Not what one expects from you! you'll miss it in No Dakota, but you can always go wach a Sioux event.. a smudging and a ghost dance!
on May 27,2013 | 07:50PM
kaleboy wrote:
Are you an idiot, Nothing nice to say about this event that brings people of every denomination together.
on May 27,2013 | 09:46PM
kiheilocal wrote:
I dont get it. Thought Memorial Day was to honor the service men and women who were killed in combat. What does this event have to do with that?
on May 27,2013 | 07:18AM
dpinsacto wrote:
What does it have to do with it? Everything and Nothing. As in life, it is what you make of it. We will be floating a lantern in remembrance of a close friend lost while serving our county.
on May 27,2013 | 07:30AM
2disgusted2 wrote:
Think of all the service men and women from Pearl Harbour.. Who family will honor now..
on May 27,2013 | 07:48AM
8082062424 wrote:
this is Hawaii and this is part of Hawaii. Like many many other local family's we went to the graves of love one and family that have passed. for us it was a all day event went to more then one.From punch bowl to diamond head to a few smaller cemetery that has family passed years and years ago. we put flowers on all our family and love one graves not just those who served
on May 27,2013 | 09:27AM
pcman wrote:
Having the Japanese influence on this festival bothers me because it provides a convenient venue for Japanese to honor the death of the Japanese attackers who died in Hawaii on December 7, 1941.
on May 27,2013 | 07:39AM
2disgusted2 wrote:
No, no...think of all the local people who served..think of the local boys who are dying in Afghanistan.. Their spirits are probably still connected to Hawaii... As our minister said in church yesterday.. We have grown beyond the two big wars.. There have been so many more.. Think of Korea.. Of Douglas McArthur in the Pacific waters.., Vietnam... We are all becoming victims even in our quiet lives of international politics..
on May 27,2013 | 07:53AM
TigerEye wrote:
That is ridiculous.
on May 27,2013 | 08:24AM
8082062424 wrote:
It is a Japanese tradition that local people have come to love and take part in. like many other things of the Japanese culture. And what happen back then was war. And every person who dies in war is some one brother son father sister or mother. Even if they did remember family members or took part in that day or even love one they lost in Hiroshima and Nagasaki there nothing wrong with that. War is ugly . but we all try and move beyond it
on May 27,2013 | 09:19AM
allie wrote:
well said
on May 27,2013 | 10:28AM
pcman wrote:
IRT 808 and allie on war. Either you are idiots or are too young to care about what started WW II. What is wrong is that the Japanese started the war on the US at Pearl Harbor. That was not any war. That was the one that led to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I am sure many Japanese also regret they started the war on America on Dec 7, 1941. Evidently, you did not lose any relative in WW II, which was started by the Japanese killing US military and civilians in Hawaii. Memorial Day is meant for us not to forget.
on May 27,2013 | 10:58PM
TigerEye wrote:
Yes, we all know that WWII occurred and that we were at war with the Japanese. You are "uncomfortable" with "the Japanese influence" on a ceremony that is put on by a local Buddhist sect? That would be funny if it were not so overtly prejudiced. Your discomfort over whose memories should be celebrated in this beautiful local tradition whose purpose is to honor everyone--not just war veterans--who has passed is misplaced. But, heck, this is America. You are free to do things like move to Hawaii and criticize such events because they may be used to honor what you personally consider to be the wrong people. By the way, I'm sure that a few posters here did lose relatives in WWII--relatives who served in, say, the 442nd RCT... Are you, by chance, "uncomfortable" with their Japanese influence?
on May 28,2013 | 08:43AM
hanalei395 wrote:
The founder of Shinnyo-en, Shinjo Ito, visited and prayed at the Arizona Memorial and at Punchbowl. After the visits, it was his desire to bring the Lantern Floating Ceremony to Hawai'i. Find something else to "bother" your racist mind.
on May 27,2013 | 08:33PM
bekwell wrote:
Such a nice tradition. Never let it fade away.
on May 27,2013 | 07:42AM
hanalei395 wrote:
A great tradition that will be here forever.
on May 27,2013 | 09:15AM
serious wrote:
Agreed, my third year of floating a lantern. Seems there is always a new name to add. If you go and don't get tears--you don't understand the solemn occasion. However, hate to add a sour note, but with all the police presence there is still the same amount of dogs.
on May 27,2013 | 01:25PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
Grateful, grateful to Shennyo-en! Thank you. Today I remember mt mother who served Hawaii and the EWC relentlessly and with the deepest sacrifice for 40 years only to be displaced....
on May 27,2013 | 07:47AM
kiragirl wrote:
How much does it cost to float a lantern and what is the money used for? It may be just a rumor but I heard bad things. Anyone know?
on May 27,2013 | 07:57AM
Anonymous wrote:
It is free. No cost. And, if you wish you may make a donation with the proceeds going to help maintain Ala Moana Park. No bad things.
on May 27,2013 | 08:39AM
kiragirl wrote:
Mahalo. Great! Glad rumor is wrong. Next year I shall get involved. Thanks again.
on May 27,2013 | 10:20AM
Aquarius1 wrote:
With 40k expected to attend, Shinnyo-En doesn't need to worry about acceptance of the event. It's too crowded for my taste.
on May 27,2013 | 11:55AM
masae wrote:
They need a better system passing out the lanterns, it's one per family or group but it doesn't work. Today the people in front of us had every Tom, Dick and Harry in line so each of them could get a lantern. they must have been like 20 of them. Also as you enter the tent to pickup your lantern there's people that slip right in the tent without even being in line. I feel sorry for those people who stood in line for hours and hours in the hot sun and don't get any because of other senseless, mindless people.
on May 27,2013 | 01:39PM
2disgusted2 wrote:
It was a SUPERB event! Thank you Shinyo- en for doing it. Thank you Hawaii News Now for the closeups..
on May 27,2013 | 07:48PM
residenttaxpayer wrote:
A wonderful ceremony...hope it helps those who are hurt and grieving due to the passing of loved ones.. despite our different ethnicities and cultures, we all have the same hope for peace and happiness...
on May 27,2013 | 08:52PM
kaleboy wrote:
Nothing nice to say!
on May 27,2013 | 09:48PM
jaronbryce23 wrote:
Chicken skin event. Thank you Shinnyo-En!
on May 27,2013 | 11:27PM
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