Today marks Memorial Day in the United States which is a day to commemorate the U.S. men and women who have perished while in military service to their country. It also marks the annual Toro Nagashi ceremony which is more commonly known in Hawaii as the Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony held at Ala Moana Beach Park in which participants float paper lanterns (chochin) out to sea.
“Lantern floating is a time-honored Buddhist rite, originating in Japan, conducted in order to pay respects to our ancestors and to comfort the spirits of the deceased. During Toro-Nagashi, or “lantern offerings on the water,” candle-lit lanterns are individually set afloat on the ocean and are said to ferry spirits “from the sea of delusion to the shore of salvation.”
Moreover, the lanterns carry our heartfelt prayers for those who have sacrificed their lives in war, victims of water-related accidents, natural disasters, famine and disease, as well as loved ones and ancestors who have passed away. Through the lantern floating ceremony, the sincere prayers of everyone are unitedâ€¦ prayers for a future in which harmony exists among all people regardless of oneâ€™s race, religion or culture.
Because of this sentiment and goal, Lantern Floating Hawai’i has become accepted as more than just a Buddhist tradition, more than something only related to Hawaii in nature. It is a human thing.“
On this Memorial Day we remember all who have given their life in service of their country and pay special tribute to the most recent lost lives of those from the State of Hawaii who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.