Pavarana: The Theravada tradition of throwing sky lanterns (2023)

Vassavasa's three-month rainy retreat has been a mainstay of monastic communities since the founding of the Buddhist order. However, its conclusion, Pavarana, is an important event in its own right, normally falling on the full moon of the eleventh lunar month. In 2022, the festival was held on October 9.

Pavaranameans "inviting warning". This refers to inviting fellow monks to rebuke offenses or misdeeds committed during the three-month retreat when the monks lived in community. According to Buddhist teachings, this practice helps ensure fidelity to the faith.Vinaya, the monastic code of conduct. Pavarana is followed by the Kathina robe offering ceremony, which lasts until the full moon of the 12th lunar month.

Theravada Buddhists around the world observe Pavarana by performing meritorious acts traditionally associated with the festival. In the morning the laity meet in the monasteries to keep five or eight commandments of the day. Before noon there is a long period of chanting during which food, flowers, incense sticks, lamps, and other offerings are offered in honor of the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha. The devotees then serve meals to the monks and eat what is left. In the afternoon, the monks give Dhamma talks, followed by discussions about the meaning of the festival. The ceremony concludes by sharing the accumulated merits with family members and all sentient beings.

In some Theravada Buddhist societies, including Bangladesh and Thailand, the afternoon follows this The Pavarana ceremony is characterized by festivities. Devotees release sky lanterns, paper hot air balloons with a small flame burning in the center, known asfanushin Bangladesh andkomfaiIn Thailand. In Bangladesh, night festivals often draw hundreds of people, including people of other faiths, in a display of religious harmony.

Sky lanterns have long been used in Chinese and Thai celebrations and were also an important part of communication in ancient China, occasionally being used to send messages over long distances. Light is a symbol of harmony and tranquility in China, and lanterns still play an important cultural role today. However, the use of lanterns for celebrations such as weddings, birthdays, music festivals, national holidays, etc. it has also been popular around the world throughout history.

The Hong Kong Buddha Dharma Center also celebrated Pavarana this year. Many Buddhists from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Hong Kong attended the celebration and performed meritorious acts. Together with my family, I observed the Five Precepts, worshiped the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha, and offered food and other essentials to the monks. In his address to the assembled Buddhists, the Venerable Professor K.L. Dhammajoti spoke at length about the meaning of Pavarana. In particular, he praised Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan Buddhists for upholding their Buddhist heritage and culture in Hong Kong. To ensure that all in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka appreciate the importance of this occasion, two monks from Bangladesh and Sri Lanka will give Dhamma talks in their respective languages. The monks ate lunch after the ceremony and then we all ate together, turning the meal into a social gathering.

When I lived in Bangladesh I also made lanterns to commemorate Pavarana. Lantern making involves building artistic structures out of bamboo and applying colored paper to create a variety of designs. However, holes cannot be made in the lantern. A wax-soaked light cloth is then tied to a wheel of thread made for the lantern.

When the lantern is turned on, it generates a lot of heat over time, and the lantern eventually rises and floats into the sky. The sky can be illuminated by the brightness of large groups of lanterns for a long time, providing a great spectacle for festival goers. But what happens to the fire in these flying lanterns? The original pioneers of this festival took into account the potential risk of fire by incorporating an integrated solution. When the burning cloth runs out, it turns to ash and the flying lanterns fall back to the ground. The wind does not carry hot embers. This makes the ritual relatively safe compared to other lantern rites.

According to Theravada Buddhist legend, Prince Siddhartha, determined to gain liberation from suffering, renounced family life on the auspicious full moon of Asadha (Pali: Asalha), a month corresponding to June or July on the Gregorian calendar. Siddhartha traveled to the Anoma River with his charioteer Chandaka and his horse Kanthaka. Leaving them both behind, he journeyed into the forest and donned the robes of a mender before becoming a wanderer.sramana, Siddhartha cut his hair with his sword. He made a vow: "If the perfection of becoming a Buddha remains in me, may this lock of hair not fall to the ground but remain in the sky." Surprisingly, not a single hair fell to the ground.

Tradition says that King Indra theDevaReich (a celestial plane associated with a good rebirth but also with sensual pleasures) kept the Buddha's hair in a jeweled pot of gold. Indra took his hair to his house in the Tavatimsa heaven. Thatit was scaryin which this hair relic was placed was called Chulamani Chaitya. Buddhists believe that the gods of Tavatimsa still worship Chulamani Chaitya. But human worshipers cannot ascend to them.DevaRich to worship the hair of the Buddha. Instead, they light paper lanterns and at Pavarana they send the sky lanterns to worship Chulamani Chaitya. The lanterns become the song of "Sadhu, Sadhu, Sadhu' by the monks echoing in the night. Then, reciting prayers,SuttaPassages and mantras pay homage to the Chulamani Chaitya for Buddhists, who are often barefoot on the occasion.

Lanterns are said to be lit on the Asadha full moon when the sky is clear. But due to possible rain or cloudy skies, there may not always be the right opportunity to let the lanterns fly.

It is not known exactly when Pavarana and their ritual processes were associated with lanterns. The truth, however, is that it is a skill that has been passed down from generation to generation for centuries. In hindsight, fires from improper lanterns are rare because the rope or cloth encloses the flame so well that the lantern doesn't go out until the fire is out.

Today, many people in different countries, regardless of their religion, have unknowingly subverted the solemn custom of making lanterns and entrusted their manufacture to inexperienced hands. At the same time, low-quality flashlights that do not fly properly or fly without proper self-extinguishing mechanisms are available on the free market, which can cause serious accidents.

There are often also no regulations on where individuals or groups can fire lanterns into the air, leading to safety concerns. As a result, many Asian countries have tightened regulations on this custom. In some cases, lanterns are even outright banned, even in Bangladesh. During the Solar New Year, unfortunate accidents involving flying lanterns occurred in some parts of the country, which is why they were never banned except in Pavarana. Similarly, the state of Washington banned its use in 2015 due to fire safety concerns.

Many Buddhists agree that it is time to reconsider the need to blow up hundreds of lanterns for traditional festivals. While throwing flashlights is always a joy, there are risks as well. Buddhist communities are concerned about the risk of fire, although they continue to celebrate lantern throwing as part of traditional Bangladeshi and Thai culture.

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What is the purpose of sky lantern in Thailand? ›

These sky lanterns are called khom loi in Thai, which means floating lanterns. The release of lanterns is believed to release negative energy and wish for good luck and good fortune in the coming year.

What does the festival of lanterns symbolize? ›

Lantern Festival, also called Yuan Xiao Festival, holiday celebrated in China and other Asian countries that honours deceased ancestors on the 15th day of the first month (Yuan) of the lunar calendar. The Lantern Festival aims to promote reconciliation, peace, and forgiveness.

What happens to the lanterns after they're released? ›

Some lanterns burn up when their internal flames catch the combustible lining, but others fall to the ground intact. Some lantern parts are made of biodegradable paper and bamboo, but the paper is painted and treated with chemicals, and can take months to disintegrate.

What particular term is used for sky lantern in Thailand? ›

The name sky lantern is a translation of the Chinese name but they have also been referred to as sky candles or fire balloons. In Thai, they are known as khom loi.

What is their belief about the sky lanterns? ›

The sky lantern also started to play a role in Buddhist ceremonies. They believed that the lanterns would carry away their troubles, and would bring good luck and prosperity. The higher the lantern would climb, the more fortune and wealth it would bring.

What is the tradition of Thailand Lantern Festival? ›

Thailand's Loi Krathong festival, in which candles are floated downriver on baskets made of banana leaves and wood, is held each year on the twelfth full moon (usually sometime in November). It's a must-see for any traveler in Southeast Asia.

What emotions do the lanterns represent? ›

The Green Lantern Corps is simply one of the many Lanterns that pull energy from the emotional spectrum. There is Red Rage, Orange Avarice, Yellow Fear, Green Willpower, Blue Hope, Indigo Compassion, and Violet Love. Let's unravel your emotions and find which Corps you'd belong to.

What is the purpose sending of the lantern? ›

The reason why people release sky lanterns at funerals is to symbolize their “soul” moving on to the next realm. What that actually means can vary between cultures and the different world religions. Essentially, it's the same as lighting a candle or letting sand blow away in the wind.

What's the meaning of a lantern? ›

lan·​tern ˈlan-tərn. often attributive. : a usually portable protective case for a light with transparent openings compare chinese lantern. obsolete : lighthouse. : the chamber in a lighthouse containing the light.

How long do sky lanterns burn? ›

Sky lanterns can fly up to 3,000 feet and lasts for around 6 to 20 minutes, or when the flame burns out. However, there is no guarantee that the fire will be completely out and cooled when the lanterns eventually land. Consequently, any contact with a flammable surface could start a fire.

Are sky lanterns legal in the US? ›

In the USA, bans include Alaska, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia and Washington.

Do lanterns cause pollution? ›

Some consider sky lanterns, also known as fire lanterns, as an acceptable alternative to balloons. Unfortunately, sky lanterns are not environmentally friendly. “Biodegradable” lanterns made of bamboo take decades to break down and can injure or entrap animals in the meantime. They can also start dangerous fires.

What they do before the lantern Fly in Thailand? ›

A candle and incense stick are placed in the middle and lit before the lantern is launched into the water. Many of the locals will be excited to help tourists make their own krathongs, but you can also purchase elaborate, premade lanterns.

What is the origin of sky lantern? ›

Sky lanterns have their origin in 3rdcentury China, is it said that they have been invented by Zhuge Liang, a Chinese politician, engineer, writer, military strategist and inventor. His courtesy name was Kongming, which explains the name of the sky lantern: Kongming Lantern.

What festival is celebrated by the flying lanterns in Thailand? ›

Yi Peng Lantern Festival is a Thai celebration held on the evening of the twelfth month's full moon in the traditional lunar calendar. It is an ancient celebration adapted from Brahmin origins and is inextricably linked with Thai Lanna culture.

What makes this Lantern Festival unique? ›

It has since become a unique celebration for all Chinese people worldwide. The festival is peppered with colorful red lanterns meant to bring good fortune. Various Chinese customs, such as lantern riddles from the Song Dynasty, add to the festival's charm.

What is the most powerful lantern color? ›

Blue Lantern Corps

It is the most powerful color but also the most difficult to master and needs Green nearby to reach its full potential. Blue can, however, drain Yellow rings of their power and suppress Red and Orange.

Where do the lanterns get their powers? ›

Where did he get his powers? The Green Lantern's powers come from his power ring. Power rings are made by the Guardians of the Universe and given only to those they deem most worthy. The original ring was made by Alan Scott who forged it from the metal of a magical green lantern.

What are the 7 lantern rings? ›

Originally just the Green Lantern Corps, it has since expanded with the Red, Orange, Yellow, Blue, Indigo and Violet, as well as the Black, White and Ultraviolet.

What wishes do people write on lanterns? ›

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.

Why is a lantern important? ›

Lanterns play an important role in social events and religious festivities. They light the way for guests, including the souls of the ancestors. The souls of ancestors are thought to visit their family at the occasion of the New Year's festival.

What does the lighting symbolize? ›

The bolt of lightning is a traditional symbol of sudden illumination and the destruction of ignorance; it also represents a punishment of humans by the gods from the skies, most commonly attributed to Zeus, king of the gods.

Do sky lanterns come back down? ›

When used in ideal weather conditions, sky lanterns will easily reach heights of over 1000 feet. Typically, it's between 700 and 1600 feet. They will usually make it between 2 and 5 miles from the original launch site before extinguishing. After, they harmlessly float back to Earth to biodegrade.

Are flying lanterns safe? ›

Sky lanterns have become increasingly popular as a way to celebrate. However, they pose a serious fire safety hazard and their use is prohibited by National Fire Protection Association code requirements.

Do lanterns give off heat? ›

Coleman Stove and Lantern

While these units will put off heat and heat up a room they can also put out carbon monoxide. EXTREME caution and a good working carbon monoxide detector should be used if you try to heat with them.

Why are flying lanterns banned? ›

Sky Lanterns are made from combustible materials such as paper bags or light fabrics which then take flight by the heat from an open flame candle. These devices are a fire safety hazard and we prohibit their use. These lanterns can travel through the air and come down in areas that can catch fire.

What country uses sky lantern? ›

According to legend, traditional sky lanterns have their roots in China, where the chancellor and regent of Shu Han state used them to relay important military information during the country's Three Kingdoms period (220 to 265 A.D.).

Can you let off Chinese lanterns? ›

Sky lanterns are not illegal or banned in United Kingdom, Europe, and United States of America or in any other known countries. Anyone over 18 years of age and capable of handling a lighter can responsibly release sky lanterns.

What can we release instead of balloons? ›

Top 10 Alternatives to Balloon Releases
  • Plant trees. Getting together to plant trees or flowers is a lovely way to remember a loved one. ...
  • Blow bubbles. ...
  • Paint stones. ...
  • Light candles. ...
  • Fly a kite. ...
  • Throw natural confetti. ...
  • Make pin wheels. ...
  • Origami animals.

Are Flying lanterns a fire hazard? ›

These lanterns are often released in large numbers to generate an impressive visual effect. Due to their uncontrolled and unpredictable flight path, they can land in trees, on building rooftops, or other combustible properties while still ignited and have significant potential to cause a fire.

Which month does the sky lantern festival usually hold? ›

The Lantern Festival is a traditional Chinese festival commemorated every 15th day of the first month in the lunisolar Chinese calendar. It usually falls in February, and it signifies the last day of the traditional Chinese New Year celebrations.

Are sky lanterns legal in Thailand? ›

Lanterns, balloons, fireworks, laser lights, drones and other items that might damage aircraft are banned around Thailand's six main airports on Tuesday and Wednesday, Airports of Thailand (AOT) said on Friday.

What will happen to the sky lantern of Thailand if the candle burns out? ›

When the fuel cell is lit the flame heats the air inside the lantern causing the lantern to rise. Once airborne the sky lantern will rise until the fuel cell or candle stays alight, when the candle burns out the sky lantern floats back to ground.

Are sky lanterns Chinese or Japanese? ›

In ancient China, sky lanterns were once used strategically in wars by the Chinese, but are now most popular for celebrations. Today, these enchanting lights are used around the world for weddings, parties, and national celebrations such as the Fourth of July and Chinese New Year.

Can you release Chinese lanterns anywhere? ›

Only launch Sky Lanterns in a large clear space away from trees, powerlines and buildings. Do not use Sky Lanterns within 5 miles of an airport. 3. If there is a slight breeze, ensure that when launched, your sky lanterns do not fly towards buildings, trees, airports, roads or any area they may pose a danger.

Why do people send lanterns into the sky? ›

As the centuries past, the Sky Lantern became a tradition for festivals and parties. Local people believed that flying Khoom Fay would bring them good luck and prosperity. The Locals would also offer Lanterns to monks in order to receive wisdom and knowledge.

Why do people release lanterns? ›

The reason why people release sky lanterns at funerals is to symbolize their “soul” moving on to the next realm. What that actually means can vary between cultures and the different world religions. Essentially, it's the same as lighting a candle or letting sand blow away in the wind.

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