By A.B. Jabur
You may recognize this iconic scene from the classic Disney movie Tangled, but did you know that these iconic lights were inspired by a real Hawaiian festival?
The Honolulu Floating Lights Festival is held annually on Memorial Day, a Federal Holiday in the US held on the last Monday of May in order to pay homage to US military officers who have died in combat.
The festival is held in Ala Moana Beach, where thousands gather to watch the paper lanterns fly away into the sunset. The lanterns hold a deep symbolism, as they are inscribed with prayers and messages to deceased loved ones.
The festival, now in its 16th year, is commenced with the sounding of the Pu, a ceremonial conch shell, and is followed by the playing of the Taiko (Japanese Drums) and the Oli, a ceremonial Hawaiian chant. These instruments are meant to bless the area for the commencement of the ceremony.
Many find the festival extremely moving and emotionally charged, as it is meant to be a way to connect with and pay your respects to deceased loved ones; many travel to Hawaii specifically to witness and be a part of this sacred ceremony.