On Sunday, I attended a Floating Lantern Ceremony held at the Fairmont Orchid hotel on the Kohala Coast. This was an event put on by the local hospice organization and was held in a beautiful grove of palm trees right at the edge of the bay.
The ceremony is based on a Japanese tradition of honoring and remembering those loved ones who have passed away. So each person received a wooden square with four long thin pieces of wood sticking up, one on each corner. We also received a piece of white rice paper that slid down over the four sticks to make a lantern. Inside was a candle.
At each table was a set of colored sharpie pens to use to write your message on the paper. When done, this paper slipped over the sticks and your lantern was ready for lighting. Some people wrote simple heartfelt messages to their loved ones. "I love you Mom" or :We miss you John". Some were very elaborate and some were very artistic. One that I remember even had a bit of humor -- it said something like "I remember you often, especially when I have to do your chores." So for some it was a sad time but for others it was just a way of saying I still remember you.
There was some Hawaiian music and hula, some prayers and chants and then the volunteers came by and lit all the lanterns. At that point, we all walked down to the edge of the bay and put our lanterns in the water where they were supposed to drift across to the other side (and be collected so they didn't add to the stuff already floating in the ocean). As you might have guessed,, the wind picked up and started blowing towards us so most of the lanterns took a short trip and started back home.
Regardless, it looked beautiful to see hundreds of people walking along the sand with their lighted lanterns and even more beautiful to see the lanterns floating in the water, especially those that were near the rocks.
There has been a similar ceremony in Honolulu for years but this is the first time I remember one being held on the Big Island and I think it will become a tradition.
Of course, once again I forgot my camera, but if you google "floating lantern ceremony" you can find lots of information and pictures from both Honolulu and Japan.