Will you be visiting Hawaii on Memorial Day? If so, you won’t want to miss the annual Memorial Day Lantern Floating ceremony at Ala Moana Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii on the beautiful island of Oahu.
People in Hawaii, like the rest of the nation place flowers and offerings on gravesites of those who have served their country as well as loved ones who have passed. Additionally, a Lantern Floating ceremony is held in remembrance. An estimated 50,000 people come together on the evening of Memorial Day to honor their loved ones by placing lanterns holding lit candles in the ocean. The ceremony also symbolizes courage and hope for the living.
The ceremony integrates traditional Hawaiian chants and dances with customs from the Japanese culture as there is a large community of Japanese Americans in Hawaii.
The Hawaiian conch shell or pu bellows to open the ceremony and bless the area. A traditional Japanese taiko performance incorporating various drums is then offered as a prayer for peace followed by a Hawaiian chant called an oli to call the attention of the crowd. Attendees then enjoy a beautiful and traditional hula performance.
The formal part of the evening brings together community leaders who ignite a central lantern known as the “light of harmony” signifying their unified commitment to create harmony amid diversity. A blessing is offered by her Holiness Shinso Ito (Head Priest of Shinnyo-en; a school of esoteric Buddhism founded by Master Shinjo Ito in Japan in the 1930s). Flowers are scattered and a shomyo (traditional Buddhist chant) is performed. Lastly, the ringing of a bell signifies it’s time to send off the lanterns. People make their way closer to the water to send off their lanterns with wishes for peace and happiness.
Another way to honor the memory of those who have served America is by visiting the floating Arizona Memorial at historic Pearl Harbor and Punchbowl National Cemetery of the Pacific. Both memorials can be seen on the USS Missouri, Arizona and Punchbowl Cemetery and the Pearl Harbor and Honolulu Highlights tours.