I 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 Day the Bomb Dropped
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.
Six weeks earlier, I’d gone, 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.
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 picnicing 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.
All the posts from the Distance Project can be found here. The project is to photograph what people are doing differently under lockdown.
Setting up was still going on. Chairs were well spread out. I think that’s a tai chi group in the background.