01 June, 2011

Memorial Weekend

I hate that I'm just now getting to this, but I was so worn out yesterday!! It was a very busy weekend, with yesterday being the most full day of them all. I was so glad that I got to spend most of my weekend with Annie. Saturday, we had our own little cookout accompanied by a mini Harry Potter marathon. =) I still don't know how Annie has gone this long without seeing any of the HP movies!! Anyway. Sunday, I didn't do anything other than going to church. Church is always a must. =) Then yesterday, I participated in the Lantern Floating ceremony!

We headed out around 1130 to go stand in line for our lanterns. After finding what we thought was the end of the line, I hopped out of the car to stand in place and Annie went to find parking. {Parking? Downtown? Ha!} Apparently what we thought was the end of the line was actually the beginning. A local Japanese man was kind enough to inform me of that. He was actually a lot nicer than you'd expect someone at the front of the line to be. =) I was fully prepared to get yelled at after he said it was the front. So then I walked allll the way to the end of the line and got in place....and pulled out my umbrella. Yep. I hated looking like all the other Japanese women there, but I just knew I would get burned if I didn't - even if I was wearing SPF 50. White girls just don't do sun.

We finally got our lanterns and sat down to decorate them when a random guy came up to us. He asked us if we wanted VIP seating. Duh! Who turns that down?! We were pretty stinkin' excited even though we were pretty sure he just approached us because we're white. And you know what? I'm pretty sure we were the "token white people" in the Japanese VIP seating. Haha!

After that, we walked across the street to the Ala Moana mall to do some shopping and get lunch. Not in that order. =) By this point, food was a major priority for both of us. Usually I'm the one begging to eat lunch because of my blood sugar issues. Thankfully it wasn't an issue that day. We lunched and shopped, and finally headed to get our VIP seating. And VIP seating it was! SO amazing.

Annie and I in our VIP seating!
Yay for deployment sisters! =D

Annie gets photo credit for this.
My sad little camera didn't get such a good shot. =P

I didn't realize going into this ceremony that it was presided over by a Buddhist priestess... Obviously, I'm not Buddhist and I do not agree with their beliefs. Fortunately {for me} she didn't speak any English and as long as I didn't look at the jumbo screen for translation, I didn't understand a word she was saying. It was nice to experience something from a different culture, but.... I don't know. I guess I'm sort of funny about things like that. Anyway.

Me with my lantern.
Notice all the Japanese people behind me.

The drummer guys did their thing, there was a hula performance which I absolutely loved, and some singing. Of course, there were a few speakers and they did interviews with some people participating in the ceremony too. Overall, it was a nice ceremony. After the beautiful sunset, it was time to release the lanterns!

More photo credits to Annie. =P

Even though it was something very different, I am so glad I participated. It was a great way to just remember all the sacrifices made, and even a great way to remember family and friends that have passed away in the last few years. It's something that you can physically do to remember and honor them. I also wrote a prayer on mine. It was a very somber ceremony...and so peaceful to see all of those lanterns floating in the ocean. There was a plane flying out just around the time the lanterns were released. Can you imagine the view the passengers got as they were leaving?! I bet it was amazing. =) Just to give you an idea of how many people attended, here's a photo.

I think they estimated about 40,000 people. On a small stretch of beach...that is a ton of people. It also goes to show you how many people want to remember someone they loved and lost. It was really a fantastic day, even though I was hot and sticky for most of it. Definitely the most worthwhile thing I've done in a while! I'm so glad Annie invited me to go with her. It's something I know I'll never forget.


Kaylee said...

That looks like such a cool experience! I bet it would have been beautiful to see all the lanterns floating off into the water!

Michelle A'etonu said...

i have a friend that also participated in this. what a beautiful sight!

JG said...

That sounds and looks so cool! I'm sure there's a lot of Buddhist influence in Hawaiian culture, but it's all so pretty. And yeah, my first thought was of Tangled :)

Oh, the umbrella thing: lots of women do it here: white, black, hispanic. If you see anyone walking down the sidewalk, they are usually carrying an umbrella.

Skinnie Piggie said...

We wanted to go so bad... but hubby's last ceremony didn't end until 4pm. No way we would have found parking at 5pm. Maybe next year...

heather said...

The lantern ceremony is so cool. Thanks for sharing :)

❈ Annie - Blonde Glambition ❈ said...

I had a fabulous time hanging out this weekend chickadee!! Thanks for being my deployment sister :)

Kate said...

Gorgeous pictures! Very cool. P.S. So excited for you that it's JUNE :)