Monday, July 18, 2011

Safari #32: Lantern Festival at Forest Hills Cemetery

Lanterns at Dusk
Saying goodbye to a loved one who has passed away is never easy, but the Lantern Festival at the Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain is lovely opportunity to remember them.

The Lantern Festival is based on the Japanese Bon Festival, a Japanese Buddhist custom that honors the spirits of the deceased. During the festival, it is believed that the door to the ancestral world opens, allowing messages from family members to be sent to the other side.

Using decorative lanterns, participants can write messages to their loved ones, and calligraphers are available to inscribe shades with messages in Chinese or Japanese characters. At dusk, the lanterns are lit and then launched on Lake Hibiscus, the cemetery's central lake. Volunteers are available to assist you with lighting your lantern.

Calligrapher's Table
The lantern launch attracts many local photographers as the sight of the lanterns on the lake is simply beautiful. Combined with the setting sun and high moon, the collective glow during my visit created the perfect setting for reflection.

Before You Go
  • Bring a Picnic. Blankets, food, drinks, mosquito spray, and a flash light (for finding your way after dark) are highly recommended.
  • Show Up Early & Make a Lantern. The lines can get long, so arrive on the earlier side to allow for enough time to pick up a lantern shade and visit the calligraphy table. 
  • Drive or Take Public Transport.  The Cemetery runs adjacent to the Forest Hills T station where the Orange Line and many buses are available.  Parking is also available onsite for $10.
  • Be Respectful. Remember that those who have created lanterns are offering messages and prayers to loved ones. Keep loud voices to a minimum. 

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I was really curious what it was like. Hoping to try it tomorrow!