When some people think of an Asian funeral, their thoughts may go to lanterns. This is because in certain Asian cultures, such as the Japanese culture, lanterns are used to honour those that have departed. If you are considering incorporating funeral or remembrance lanterns into a friend or loved one's Asian funeral, here are a few of the options you may have and what to know about them.
Sky lanterns are ideal if you are not near a waterway where floating lanterns can be used. Sky lanterns are usually made of paper or an eco-friendly material. In the past, sky lanterns carried a small tea light candle or similar light source. Over the years, companies have created sky lanterns that run on a small eco-friendly device that powers the lantern with air for a short time or a solar-powered light that is more eco-friendly. If you are using either of this options, you may want to have some way of confining the sky lanterns to a particular area for easy retrieval or having one large lantern used that can be easily retrieved.
The Obon ceremony is a common farewell ceremony in many Asian areas, including Japan. In fact, it is one of the ceremonies that may come to mind when you think of Asian funerals and lanterns. The Obon ceremony uses floating lanterns that are placed on the water with a tealight or other light option in the paper lantern. The lantern is inscribed with notes of love and farewell to the departed loved one. This is usually done on a river or bay, but it can also be done on a lake with proper permission.
Toro Nagashi Ceremony
The Toro Nagashi ceremony is an Asian funeral tradition that is done once a year. The ceremony honours all who have passed during that year. It is similar to the Obon ceremony due its use of paper floating lanterns. This is done at the end of the Buddhist festival of O-bon. It begins as a way to signify the departed souls returning to the afterlife. Many people participate in this holiday as businesses close and many parks and waterway areas perform the ceremony. You can also use this time to meet with family and have a smaller gathering at the same time.
When you are ready to begin planning an Asian funeral lantern ceremony, contact your local funeral director. They can tell you if they have experience in this type of funeral and guide you on the steps you should take to ensure the lanterns and the ceremony match the Asian culture of your friend or loved ones' funeral. They can also help you with different planning phases of the funeral.