Floating Lanterns Honor the Departed
I first saw floating lanterns in Hiroshima in a haunting ceremony on August 6 for those who perished from the atomic bombing on that day in 1945. This Japanese traditional lantern floating for the departed is done on Memorial Day in Honolulu, integrating Japanese customs with American tradition in a harmonious merging of cultures. The candle's flame inside the lantern symbolizes a life, and the prayer consoles the departed and wishes them to go to a better life in the spiritual realm. Lantern floating gives us the opportunity to give thanks and offer prayers of appreciation to the lives who gave life to us. The ceremony is based on the realization that all of our lives are built on the foundation of the lives given by previous generations. The lit lantern represents our connection with people beyond the boundary of life and death; a way of expressing gratitude to the infinite past. When we have that profound appreciation, we get awakened to a strong resolve of living this moment fully.