Wishing at the Water Lantern Festival
The arrival of the Mid-Autumn Festival is marked by the Water Lantern Festival and the Hungry Ghost Festival. People in Asia traditionally worshipped and paid their respects to their ancestors and other spirits during the Hungry Ghost Festival, which precedes the more well-known Mid-Autumn Festival.
What is the Water Lantern Festival?
For centuries, people have used water lanterns as a way to send their wishes, hopes and messages to deities and ancestors. They are similar to the sky lanterns lit during Chinese New Year and the Mid-Autumn Festival.
Water lanterns are a celebration that is a part of the Hungry Ghost Festival. They come in various colours, shapes and sizes. People would write messages and wishes on the lanterns before lighting them and letting the river carry them away. In Asian cultures, your ancestors can influence and guide the direction of your future. Believing this to be true, people would hope their wishes would be seen and then granted.
The festival also serves another purpose during the Hungry Ghost Festival. The river carrying the lanterns away is said to help lead the wandering spirits back to the spirit realm and symbolizes washing away any bad luck. You can read more about the other traditions of the Hungry Ghost Festival here.
Types of Wishes
Wishes written on the water lanterns are as unique as the individuals writing it. Many will wish for good fortune while some wishes are more specific.
Wishing for good health, happiness and luck in your studies or relationship using the lanterns are also common. Going to the festival with your significant other is quite a romantic experience. You can write on a lantern together, similar to writing on a love lock.
The Water Lantern Festival in Canada
The majority of the metropolitan cities in Canada celebrate the Water Lantern Festival. One World brings the celebration to Canada but many cities will host their own independent festival.
Participating in your local festival is a great way to spend time with your family and friends. Building and designing lanterns is an activity that’s fun for the whole family. The festival usually includes other fun activities as well.
Look around and find out if your city is hosting an event! In the meantime, check out Toronto’s official Water Lantern Festival website for more details about the event.