Words of compassion and remembrance illuminated the waters off Magic Island in Honolulu on Memorial Day for the annual Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony.
Upholding the theme of "Many rivers, one ocean", the more than 40,000 attendees gathered together along the shoreline and shared a moment of peace and harmony.
"A very touching, emotional, and moving tribute to the participants' loved ones," says Rowena Bongco-Pagtakhan visiting from California. "You feel the grieving of those around you, sighs heard, a sultry relief as emotions are poured, expressing their feelings of loss and hope."
The first Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony took place in 1999 at the Ke`ehi Lagoon, attracting more than hundreds of locals and visitors. Since then, the ceremony has grown to the thousands, bringing people together regardless of culture, race, religion, and many other divides.
Sounds from the taiko drums call out to the loved ones who have passed. The drummers find a connection to the emotions of those affected by their loss. The Shinnyo-en Taiko Drumming Ensemble is made of members from many different religious backgrounds.
The Makaha Sons
A bittersweet performance by The Makaha Sons, as they sing with a new band member to family that has passed on, as well as a fellow bandmate who is no longer with them. A somber moment during their performance is shared by the audience.
Hau`oli Akaka chants the oli to bring everyone together, preparing them for an emotional and spiritual event. Akaka calls upon his ancestors to guide those having hardships. He chants for positive direction toward peace and harmony.
Her Holiness Shinso Ito represents the many practitioners of Shinyo-en belief, as well as those willing and accepting of peace and harmony. She has been actively promoting inter-religious and cross-cultural activities since 1989.
During the Light of Harmony, Her Holiness Shinso Ito meditates for a world of understanding and compassion. Her thoughts are of "Many rivers, one ocean", a theme of friendship.She is the successor to Master Shinjo Ito, who passed away in 1989.
Light of Harmony
The Light of Harmony brings together those who hold leadership roles in different communities, such as politics, military, and religion. The lighting symbolizes a unified commitment toward peace and harmony.
The Halau Hula Kamamolikolehua tells stories of respect toward the earth as well as each other. The movements and chants are driven by the percussive sounds of drumming by Hau`oli Akaka.
Decorating a path of petals, the sange symbolizes love and respect to those we love who have passed. It is a path to honor their souls. These women take pride in their role and perform with grace.
Instrumental and vocal melodies of the shomyo is a fusion of western choral harmony and traditional Buddhist chant. This group remains active throughout the ceremony, bridging the elements of lantern floating.
On the water
Thoughts and prayers are expressed as thousands of lanterns are released onto the waters off Magic Island. An estimated 6,000 lanterns share the waters - "Many rivers, one ocean"