Getting a Rocket
Street Life

The Day The Bomb Dropped

Social Distancing Project 137I followed some of the temple folk up to the pagoda. In any other year I would have expected at least a hundred people. Officially, there were just ten.

The Distance Project 16

The 6th of August is a day burned into memory. On that day in 1945, the first atomic bomb used in war was dropped on Hiroshima in Japan.

That’s why on the 6th of August every year there’s a ceremony at the Peace Pagoda in Milton Keynes, to commemorate the victims of that day. Volunteers at the Buddhist temple call it the Lantern Ceremony.

After prayers and chanting, peace lanterns are carried down to the lake and floated out across the water as the sun sets behind the pagoda. The light in each lantern is meant to, aided by prayer, guide the souls of victims in the right direction in order to ease their suffering.

Buddhism is a most compassionate religion.

Social Distancing Project 138Setting up was still going on. Chairs were well spread out. I think that’s a tai chi group in the background.

Six weeks earlier, I’d gone to Willen for the Distance Project, to see what would happen on the day of the long planned 40th Peace Pagoda Ceremony. I was surprised and pleased to find a very small, invite only ceremony, although the event had been officially cancelled because of the lockdown. It was all they could do.

Social Distancing Project 139At the top of the slope was a well spread out exercise class.

I expected a similar scene when I went to the Lantern Ceremony and that’s what I found, but a few more people had turned up to the pagoda on the off-chance, too.

Still, there were nowhere near as many there as usual. All around were other groups and small gatherings doing their own thing; exercising or picnicking in the public park.

This week I’m just showing you the first part of the ceremony, up at the Peace Pagoda. I’ll show you the second part of the ceremony down at the lake, next week.

(Edited, September 2021)
This is just one of many posts from The Distance Project and the project is to photograph what people are doing differently under lockdown. The link will take you back to the very first posts, but if you want to see them in reverse order, just click on the link in the categories list that's on every page. The project ran from April 2020 to September 2021.

Social Distancing Project 140Some of the 18 lanterns on the steps of the peace pagoda. Usually there are just over 200.


Social Distancing Project 141The Buddhist nun confers with temple volunteers.


Social Distancing Project 142A temple volunteer lights the lanterns; there’s half a candle in each one. The design of the lanterns has been refined and perfected over the years.


Social Distancing Project 143The small group in the middle distance has come to see the lantern ceremony. Beyond is an exercise class.


Social Distancing Project 144Worshippers bow with respect at the end of the first part of the ceremony.

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