Consider the Lilies
A Bell, a Bell

Light Relief

Peace Lanterns

The Monday Photo

These are peace lanterns, all lit and ready to go; just some of the 200 lanterns that were pushed out on to North Willen Lake on Hiroshima Day, 6th August.

I know this was a few weeks ago, but this picture had to join the queue of Monday photos, and also this ain’t no news blog.

The ceremony, held by the monks and nuns of the Peace Pagoda and Buddhist temple at Willen, starts at the pagoda as the sun sets. Then as darkness fell the lanterns are all carried down to the lake side, where temple volunteers take them out on to the water.

I used to be a regular volunteer at the temple, and I’ve had a hand in all the stages of lantern construction.

I’ve seen the design evolve over the years. Over a dozen years ago we were using tea lights to illuminate the lanterns, but found their light was too low down.

Now the lanterns use half a candle, just the right length to put the flame half way up the lantern. The old empty tea lights are there to prevent the base getting scorched. If you look closely you can see blackening on a couple of the lanterns, but those are very old bases.

The four origami peace cranes on the top corners are a fairly new innovation; this year just one volunteer made them for all 200 lanterns.

The bases are made to suit a particular size of tissue paper. In the weeks before the ceremony it’s not unknown for a temple visitor to find themselves decorating the lantern tissue.

Every year as the day approaches the bases are dragged out of storage to be inspected and counted; every year a few have to be replaced. It’s a surprisingly quick job to knock out a batch of new bases to bring the number back up to 200. The shrine room in the temple gets filled with lanterns in various stages of construction, and just in time the lanterns are ready.

The day after the ceremony temple volunteers borrow the Parks Trust’s boat. They spend hours on the lake finding all the lanterns. The bases are cleaned and left to dry so they can go back in storage, ready for next year.

As you can see there’s far more to the Hiroshima Day Ceremony than just turning up, and it’s the same with many other events when most of the work is done by volunteers.

There are plenty of opportunities for volunteering in your local area. While the Peace Pagoda wouldn’t mind a few more volunteers, there are plenty of other places too in North Bucks. It wouldn’t be too hard to find volunteering work in a field you are interested in, and there’s the socialising part of it too.

Since you are reading this blog, you might like to do something at your local museum. Give it a try!

If you find volunteering not for you, not to worry; this being England, you’ll at least get tea and biscuits…

This post's photo waas taken with a Pentax camera and lens.

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