Monday, May 26, 2008

TORO-NAGASHI IN HAWAII... TO REMEMBER

LANTERN OFFERINGS ON THE WATER...
Candle-lit lanterns will be launched from the beach this evening to honor those who have perished that year and pay respect to our ancestors.

When I first moved to Hawaii nearly 20 years ago we lived on the 16th floor over looking the Ala Wai Canal, Diamond head, and the Pacific Ocean if we stood on a chair on the lanai and craned our necks so we looked kind of like Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
One evening I looked out and the canal was lit by thousands of illuminated paper lanterns. It covered the waterway -- an immense candle lit flotilla.
We watched for hours as these jaunty little paper boats made their way to the harbor and out to the open sea before sinking.
I found out later it was a Buddhist rite, originally from Japan to carry spirits "from the sea of delusion to the shore of salvation."

What ever the spiritual intent it is a lovely ceremony. Thousands here in Hawaii take part every year to remember those close to them. Even if you don't set your own lantern onto the surface of the water it's a chance think about all those who have been lost. It's a chance to realize those we cared about are not really gone...just as the lanterns slowly saturate with water and the candles flicker and extinguish -- the memory of them remains-- just as the memory remains of all the people in your life who were important to you.
It's not a time of sadness.
Never sadness.

10 comments:

Travis Erwin said...

I bet that is a beautiful sight and the perfect atmosphere for a bit of reflection on life.

Polly Kahl said...

That's truly beautiful Pat. Thanks for sharing it with us.

Jamie Ford said...

Beautiful. There's a similar festival at Japan's Yasukuni Shrine each year. Thousands of lanterns offered to each family's kami--the spirits of their departed. A lovely tribute, regardless of faith.

Mary said...

Beautiful.

Demon Hunter said...

That does seem like a beautiful ceremony. The lanterns look so wwonderful on the dark water. A great way to remember loved ones. :*)

Lisa said...

It is a beautiful and uplifting ceremony and I've watched many. You're right though...it never feels sad.

laughingwolf said...

beautiful custom, and so mote it be....

Chumplet said...

That is beautiful. It reminds me of our Relay For Life display, when we walk around a track all night (in turn). We have countless paper bags arrnged around the track, with the names of loved ones who have either won or lost their battles with cancer, printed on the bag and illuminated by candles inside.

Bernita said...

A beautiful ritual.

sylvia said...

This is beautiful.