lanterns-hudson (Photo: Lanterns floating on the Hudson, 11 Sept 2007)

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Matthew Weiner is Program Director at the Interfaith Center of New York.

By Matthew Weiner

Everyone has a September 11th story, especially those living in New York, and just about every religious community has a way of commemorating it. Most religious leaders include the topic in their weekly sermons. Others hold prayer services on the day itself. Do different religions do so differently?

Some Buddhists do. On Friday, September 11th, Rev. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki, a Japanese Buddhist priest, hosts his annual Lantern Lighting Ceremony at Pier 40 on the Hudson River. He has done so every year on the day of anniversary. Hundreds of people attend- many of them Buddhists, but mostly they are just New Yorkers who have made this the way that they pass the evening of 9/11 as the sun sets.

An obon ceremony, as it is called, is traditionally done in the summer to commemorate the dead (specifically for the victims of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima). Small rice paper lanterns are built, families write the name of loved ones who have passed on the lanterns, candles are placed inside and the lanterns are set out to sea. Nakagaki has used the service, but changed it, for this annual purpose.

9-1_floating_flyerIn the New York version, lanterns are set out in kayaks, courtesy of the New York Kayak Club, and bob along the shore of the Hudson . Their soft glow speckle the reflections the twin tower light beams, emanating from Ground Zero.