The largest Memorial Day observance in the United States happens on the beach in Honolulu, Hawaii with the Lantern Floating Hawaii 2015 ceremony, presented by Shinnyo-en, an international Buddhist community with Japanese roots, and the locally based Nā Lei Aloha Foundation.
The ceremony takes place on Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. It is non-denominational and free to the public to attend. More than 50,000 participants will set afloat 6,000 candle-lit lanterns that bear remembrances and prayers to illuminate the shores of Honolulu’s Ala Moana Beach at sunset. Themed “Many Rivers, One Ocean,” the annual Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony provides an opportunity for thoughts and prayers from around the globe to create a moment of collective remembrance, harmony and international friendship.
As a result of the recent earthquakes in Nepal, prayers will be offered for the thousands of lives lost in that tragedy and for all afflicted people who struggle every day. Shinnyo-en’s presence in Asia allowed them to quickly come to the aid of the Nepalese moments after the earthquakes, providing an ambulance, donating relief supplies, and coordinating with international and local organizations.
The lantern floating ceremony is observed from dusk to sunset on Memorial Day, and is officiated by the head priest of the Shinnyo Buddhist community, Her Holiness Shinso Ito. The ceremony starts with the sounding of the conch shell to the North, East, South and then West and includes diverse cultural and spiritual rituals and entertainment such as traditional Taiko drums, hula dance and orchestral music. Leading up to the mass lantern floating, Shinso Ito performs a ceremonial lighting of the Light of Harmony with honorable guests.