A faculty member and four students from Hartford Seminary attended the 16th Annual Shinnyo-en Lantern Floating Ceremony on May 25, 2015, in Honolulu, Hawaii. The event is hailed as a “vehicle for cross-cultural cooperation, understanding, harmony, and peace.”
Each year on Memorial Day, about 40,000 people gather at the Ala Moana Beach Park near Waikiki beach at sundown to watch a service and lantern floating ceremony presided over by the head of the Shinnyo-en order, Her Holiness Shinso Ito. Among them this year were Prof. Feryal Salem, and students Scott Gardner, Allison Taylor, Taha Elnil, and Lubabatu Ahmad-Rufai.
The Lantern Floating is a traditional Buddhist ceremony in which participants float lanterns down a river or in the ocean. This honors those who have lost their lives in war or by other unfortunate events or disasters as well as loved ones who have passed away. The event also carries with it a message of hope toward the achievement of a harmonious and peaceful world. As part of the ceremony, all participants are invited to write remembrances and prayers on specially prepared lanterns to be floated during the ceremony. About 2,000 lanterns are released in a collective act of remembrance and gratitude.
The Shinnyo-en Foundation was established in San Francisco in 1995 as a secular, philanthropic arm of the Shinnyo-en Buddhist Order and supports educational programs that engage and inspire young people in meaningful acts of service. The mission of the Shinnyo-en Foundation is to promote global peace through service by nurturing future generations. Shinnyo-en supports relationship building with other faith or religious groups.
The foundation has been a significant supporter of Hartford Seminary, and this year is supporting a summer course on “The Spirituality and Practices of Asian Religions,” which begins on June 7.