September 22, 2013
Central Park, New York City
On Sunday, September 22nd, on the eve of the convening of the United Nations General Assembly, thousands of New Yorkers gathered for the first Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace in Central Park. Orchestrated by Shinnyo-en, an international Buddhist community, more than 2,200 lanterns with individually-written messages of peace were set afloat onto a large reflecting pool in the center of Trump Rink, in honor of people who have dedicated their lives to the cause of peace.
The Shinnyo Lantern Floating for Peace was an adaptation of a traditional Japanese Buddhist lantern floating ceremony, designed specifically to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of peacemakers – and not just the world leaders who were gathering in New York City that weekend for the United Nations sessions, but people in all our lives who help create and sustain peace in our everyday lives.
Shinso Ito, Head Priest of Shinnyo-en, conducted the ceremony. She said, “It was a great honor and privilege for me to conduct this special Lantern Floating ceremony in New York City for the first time. My wish and prayer for the extraordinary community of New Yorkers is that the ceremony will awaken a spirit of loving kindness and compassion to treat others with greater warmth and care. We should not underestimate the power each one of us has to create a stronger force for peace in our families, our communities and globally.”
The sunset ceremony was attended by several hundred invited guests and viewed by hundreds more around the perimeter of the Trump Rink. The ceremony was opened by an official welcome on behalf of the Mayor of New York presented by Fatima Shama, Commissioner of the Office of Immigrant Affairs.
Honored guest speakers at the ceremony included Zainab Hawa Bangura, Under-Secretary-General & Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict United Nations; Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General United Nations and Deputy Executive Director UN Women; Anne-Marie Goetz, Chief Advisor on Peace and Security UN Women; and the Reverend Chloe Breyer, Executive Director of The Interfaith Center of New York.
The ceremony was supplemented by performances by artists from the Natya Dance Theater (classical Indian dance) of Chicago, Illinois; instrumentalists Rufus Capadoccia (cello), Brahim Fribgane (oud), and Graham Haynes (trumpet); Junior Fountain and God’s Generation, a nationally acclaimed youth gospel choir and ensemble based in Bridgeport, Connecticut; and the Shinnyo Taiko Drum Ensemble.
The evening ceremony was the culmination of a day-long festival of peace at the Trump Rink that was open to the public for anyone who wanted to take advantage of this opportunity to remember and acknowledge the peacemakers in their own lives.