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The top five reasons to use sky lanterns for a special occasion are undoubtedly their aesthetic value, historical significance, the act of ritual, environmental safety and for adding a personal touch.

Aesthetics

Nothing compares to the sight of a flock of sky lanterns floating gracefully upwards to the heavens. The warm illumination of the night sky is magical to behold. It is the perfect climax to any special occasion, be it a wedding, birthday party or New Year’s celebration. The sight is one that builds slowly and quietly as the lanterns are lit and released one at a time, culminating in a softly illuminated night sky that is quite different from the quick loud bang of fireworks.

History

Sending off sky lanterns is a traditional practice in the Orient dating back to the 3rd Century AD. It’s one thing to study history and another to participate in it. When sending off sky lanterns during an important ceremony or event the participants are a living part of the tradition. Nothing connects a person to history like the enactment of a tradition practice, adding to the ongoing tradition.

Ritual

In Asia it is widely believed, particularly among Buddhists, that the airborne sky lanterns symbolize a person’s problems floating away. And in Thailand the lantern’s flame is said to symbolize wisdom; lanterns are offered to temples and monks in the belief that enlightenment will be received in return. While these beliefs are specific to a culture based in Buddhism the enactment of ritual in any culture serves to focus the minds of the participants. In a wedding, for example, the guests wish good fortune for the newlyweds. The act of sending off a flock of sky lanterns imbues a mood of tranquillity amongst the guests and provides a collective focus of well wishes for the bride and groom.

Ecology

Sky lanterns have not always been equated with ecology, with many farmers and environmentalists rightly concerned what happens to the lanterns when they fall back the earth. However, Night Sky Lanterns makes an eco-friendly sky lantern as shown on their website at http://www.nightskylanterns.co.uk/eco-lanterns/cat_19.html. The metal wire holding the fuel cell, which has been the major problem, has been replaced by a biodegradable material called Dragon’s Wool. Where previously the leftover metal wire caused injury or death to livestock and wildlife when accidently ingested the biodegradable wool causes no such problem. The wool, along with the rice paper and bamboo that comprise the bulk of the lantern, are all natural fibres. And unlike fireworks sky lanterns release no toxic gases.

Personalization

In an increasingly homogenized world it becomes ever more important to put an individual stamp on a personal occasion such as a wedding or New Year’s. And no celebration is more memorable than the one tailored to both the guests and the occasion. Sky Lanterns are offered in a variety of colours, such as the ones from Night Sky Lanterns shown at http://www.nightskylanterns.co.uk/lantern-packs/coloured-lantern-packages/prod_18.html.  They usually come in two shapes, a large cylindrical or a smaller one that resembles a miniature hot air balloon. There are also novelty shapes such as heart, footballs and cubes such as the ones seen at http://www.nightskylanterns.co.uk/novelty-sky-lanterns/cat_21.html. For those more inclined toward the traditional there is the practice, as old as the lanterns themselves, of writing a personal note on each lantern. In a large ceremony such as a wedding it is common for each guest to write their personal best wishes for the couple on their own lantern, bringing history and tradition together with personal touch.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, April 28th, 2010 at 3:49 PM and is filed under General News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.



 

 

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