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Honolulu event will light up the night on Memorial Day

May 18, 2011|By Rosemary McClure | Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Lanterns float out to sea bearing messages for the dead during Hawaii Memorial Day service.
Lanterns float out to sea bearing messages for the dead during Hawaii Memorial… (Shinnyo-en Hawaii. )

One of Hawaii’s most dramatic annual celebrations will begin at sunset on Memorial Day, when more than 3,000 candle-lighted lanterns will be floated on the water, illuminating the ocean off Magic Island at Honolulu’s Ala Moana Beach Park.

The ceremony, which draws more than 40,000 people annually, honors the dead, with the lanterns bearing individual and community remembrances and prayers.

The free event, called the Lantern Floating Hawaii Ceremony, is sponsored by the Na Lei Foundation and officiated by Shinnyo-en, a Buddhist group.

Residents and visitors from around the world cast lanterns afloat at sunset in remembrance of loved ones and as symbolic appeals for peace and harmony.  

"We hope that Lantern Floating Hawaii allows people to experience a feeling of warmth, joy, loving kindness, and compassion, whether they participate from shore or view from their homes," said Roy Ho of Na Lei Foundation.

The event has taken place annually since 1999; volunteers begin constructing the lanterns in March. This year’s 90-minute ceremony and program will begin at 6:30 p.m. May 30 with a Buddhist service and will include performances by international and Hawaiian musicians.

At the end of the ceremony, lanterns are collected and recycled for use in  upcoming years. 

Contact: Lantern Floating Hawaii Ceremony

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