Lantern Floating Ceremonies Around the World: “A Resolve for Compassion”

August 19, 2015
Tokyo, Japan

This spring, the first Shinnyo Lantern Floating ceremony of the year took place at the Breeze Canal by Lu-zhou Lu-ti Park in Taipei. Shinnyo-en is dedicated to helping people from all backgrounds and faiths realize greater self-awareness, happiness, and harmony for the good of humanity, and these ceremonies are held with the hope that the collective act of floating lanterns with messages of peace will encourage people around the world to take action towards building peace in their lives.

In Taipei, more than 10,000 participants attended the April 19th ceremony and floated lanterns inscribed with personal messages. Speaking about the ceremony’s theme of “Creating the Ripples of Friendship,” Her Holiness Shinso Ito articulated her belief that the collective power of goodness forms numerous ripples, and if everyone can treat others with a considerate heart, the light of hope can light up the world. Noteworthy individuals from business, arts and culture were also in attendance at Breeze Canal, including the writer, Xiao Ye; the directors Lee Si Yuan and Essay Liu; Chen Yu Xiu, the Chairwoman of Egret Fund; Chiu, Tsai-Hsing; the chairman of Chiu Tsai-Hsing Culture Foundation; and Andrea Wu, CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce. The ceremony also featured performances by Shinnyo Taiko Drummers, The Shinnyo Chorus and the Taipei Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.

In May, the 17th annual Lantern Floating Hawaii took place on the beach in Honolulu and was attended by tens of thousands of people from around the world. Presented by Shinnyo-en and the locally-based Nā Lei Aloha Foundation, the ceremony took place on the American holiday of Memorial Day, which honors the people who passed while serving in the country's armed forces.

Altogether more than 50,000 participants set afloat 6,000 candle-lit lanterns that were decorated with personal remembrances and prayers that illuminated 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 people to share their thoughts and prayers to create a moment of collective remembrance, harmony and international friendship. Video of the Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony can be seen at http://lanternfloatinghawaii.com/page/home

The following month, the very first Lantern Floating in Europe took place on June 13 at the beautiful Britzer Garden in Berlin. Shinnyo Buddhism is an engaged Buddhism that is applicable in everyday life. It emphasizes the ability to share the esoteric teachings of the Buddha with people from all backgrounds and faiths. Following this guiding principle, the Lantern Floating Berlin’s theme of “Thousand Lights of Aspiration” was created to encourage every individual to contribute to peace in the world.

Despite the adverse weather conditions that resulted in the cancellation of the evening ceremony, more than 3,000 people in the Britzer Garden floated lanterns with Her Holiness Shinso Ito during the afternoon. The ceremony included inspirational performances by The Shinnyo Taiko drummers, the noted German composer J. Peter Schwalms; Naoko Kikuchi of Japan, who performed classical Koto music; Stella Chiweshe, a traditional mbira musician from Zimbabwe; and percussionist Farhan Sabbagh of Syria. Video of Lantern Floating Berlin can be seen at http://www.1000-lichter-der-zuversicht.de/video/.

Her Holiness Shinso Ito is renowned as a female Buddhist master and for her pioneering approach to making ancient Buddhist teachings and trainings relevant and accessible to lay audiences so that any individual, regardless of faith or background, can cultivate his or her true self and apply those principles in their everyday lives. Her Holiness is one of the few women to be granted the title of daisojo, the highest priestly rank in Japanese Buddhism. She is also the first woman ever to have officiated at a Buddhist ceremony at the Daigoji Monastery in Japan which has a rich history of over 1,100 years and is registered as a World Heritage Site.