Buddhist Temple Offers Special Activities in August

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PC: Sarah Anderson Photography

In August, the public is invited to celebrate the lives of the departed in two uniquely meaningful ceremonies.

Community Memorial Service and Bon Dance

On Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019, Honokaʻa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple will present its 116th annual Memorial Service in the Social Hall at 5:30 p.m., followed by Bon Dance at 7 p.m. A simple and healing ceremony, open to all, the Community Memorial Service honors those who have passed recently (in the last year or so), as their names are read aloud, and families and friends step forward to place incense in a symbolic gesture of appreciation for their life.


When the service concludes, everyone is welcome to stay and join in the dancing, music, food and celebration. A traditional Buddhist style of folk dancing, Bon Odori (Bon Dance) is accompanied by lively Taiko drums and music, and led by dance groups in colorful hapi coats to represent different temples. Young and old participate, whether they are beginners or lifelong dancers.

For the Community Memorial Service on Aug. 24, names may be submitted in advance by email to [email protected], or by text at 808-640-4602. During the memorial service, when the person’s name is called, anyone may step forward with friends and family to offer a small amount of incense, which is provided, with aloha.

Hundreds gather at Coconut Grove. Image provided by Catherine Tarleton

Participants do not have to be a temple member or a Buddhist to participate, and even without advance arrangements, anyone can honor loved ones by submitting a name just prior to the beginning of the ceremony. Admission is free and all are welcome. For more information, visit www.honokaahongwanjibuddhisttemple.org or Honoka‘a Hongwanji Mission on Facebook.


Floating Lantern Ceremony

North Hawai‘i Hospice invites the community to join in the 9th annual Floating Lantern Ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 25, 2019, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Fairmont Orchid Hawai‘i. Held near the ocean at Coconut Grove, the event includes live music, hula, Taiko drummers and Hawaiian chanting. It will be followed by a sunset lantern release into Pauoa Bay.

The Floating Lantern Ceremony has roots in Toro Nagashi (lantern flow), a Japanese ceremony in which participants float paper lanterns down a river. Traditionally performed during Obon season, it is believed that the lights will help to guide souls to the spirit world.


Participants may purchase lanterns for $10, which includes materials to decorate them, inscribe with their loved ones’ names or write a personal message. There is no charge for admission and free self-parking for the event is provided by the Fairmont Orchid Hawai‘i. Food and beverages will be available for purchase.

Proceeds from the event support the work of North Hawai‘i Hospice, providers of in-home, compassionate services for patients and their families needing care and support during the final stages of life. They also offer emotional and spiritual support for the patient and loved ones, as well as bereavement support for an entire year after the death. For more information, or to purchase lanterns in advance, contact North Hawai‘i Hospice at 808-885-7547 or by email at [email protected].

“We are honored to partner with North Hawai‘i Hospice in creating A Weekend to Remember,” said Miles Okumura of Honoka‘a Hongwanji, who has assisted with the Floating Lantern event for the last several years. “Working together, we can help reach out to those who are grieving and offer meaningful ways, not only to mourn those losses, but to celebrate their lives with music, poetry, dance and traditional ritual surrounded by community.”

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