Hawaii Lantern Floating and Shinnyo-en Buddhism

Hawaii Lantern Floating Ceremony

Every year thousands of people gather to witness the Hawaii Lantern Floating Ceremony which is held at Ala Moana Beach Park at Magic Island. Months of preparations go into this truly unique Oahu event and volunteers gather to rebuild the Lantern’s which are re-used. The event is held on Memorial Day, and is an opportunity for the community to come together as a whole to recognize the similarity in our experiences in life. Behind the annual Lantern Floating Ceremony is an organization called Na Lei Aloha. Na Lei Aloha is a secular, community-building arm of the Shinnyo-en Buddhist Order in Hawai’i. So what is the Shinnyo-en Buddhist Order?

Shinnyo-en Buddhism

Shinnyo-en Buddhism is an order of Buddhism that was created in Tokyo in 1936 by Shinjo Ito and his wife Tomoji Ito. Currently the head of Shinnyo-en is the daughter of Shinjo Ito and Tomoji Ito, Keishu Shinso Ito, who hosts the Lantern Floating Ceremony. The Shinnyo-en is a school of Buddhism, but it is open to “lay practitioners.” People of different religions or beliefs are welcomed to practice with the Shinnyo-en. Shinyo-en Buddhist temples are often characterized by a statue of a reclining Buddha.

Na Lei Aloha Foundation

The Na LeiAloha Foundation was formed under the guidance of the head of Shinnyo-en, Her Holiness Keishu Shinso Ito. The overall goal of the Na Lei Aloha Foundation is to enrich Hawai’i and its people by bringing them together in cooperation and harmony; underlying teachings of Shinnyo-en, and Buddhism. The Na Lei Aloha Foundation wants to encourage members of the community to build relationships, collaborate, and support each other. Through grant making and hosting events that encourage this type of interaction Na Lei will reach its goal. Every year Na Lei brings thousands of people together in Waikiki to launch their Lantern’s, and all of these people come together under similar circumstances; to remember loved ones and look forward to the future.

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