Last Thursday was a magical evening. We rode the orange line all the way to the end to Forest Hills to participate in the annual Forest Hills Lantern Festival. The T stop is at the opposite end of where the festival took place on Lake Hibiscus, which gave us an opportunity to see some of the interesting grave markers and miscellany on our journey.
It’s a rather elaborate cemetery and I really want to return to explore further. Eugene O’Neill and ee cummings are buried here.
Hmmm … I hadn’t thought about getting myself a whole house for the hereafter.
No idea what these tiny houses are. At first, I thought they were for pets but then I saw “Temperance Leader” on one. Please don’t put me next to that.
Look at the detailing on this one!
This was in a long line of similar gravestones each with names like “Mary” and “Caroline” clearly inscribed on them. How would you like to be known for all eternity as just “Husband?” Perhaps someone forgot to be explicit in his will.
Knowing that picnicking is a part of the tradition, we brought along some vittles and a blanket on which to sit during the entertainment. There were blankets and chairs as far as the eye could see. Some folks had tables and elaborate set-ups as well.
One of the entertainment acts included the Lion Dance, which I really loved.
It was performed by the only all female Asian Lion and Dragon Dance troupe in the US, Gund Kwok, which happens to be in Boston.
After we finished our meal and watched some of the show, we wandered over to the lantern-making area. My niece and I each got one. First stop was at the calligraphy table where there was a choice of four different phrases to add to our lanterns. My niece chose “love” and I selected “eternal life.”
We then moved over to the self decorating section and added our own personal touches to our lanterns. Last stop was the base table where they helped you put your paper shade on a lantern base fitted with a candle.
Here are our finished lanterns …
The festival is based on the Japanese Bon Festival that has been celebrated for over 500 years. According to their tradition, at mid-summer a gateway opens to the world of our ancestors. The lanterns are lit to help guide them back to their world with prayers offered for their eternal rest.
My niece honored our Nana, who you all know passed away in November 2010, and her dog, Ginger (I still remember when she woke us up with a phone call early in the morning to tell us that her beloved pet had died.)
I dedicated my lantern to my friend, Sarah. Hers is a story I’ve shared a number of times with all of you.
Tip for those who may want to attend next year: bring your own lighter! We wandered around forever looking for those promised volunteers who would light our lanterns. We were finally rescued by a helpful member of the crowd.
My niece wanted us to put our lanterns in the water together. Here they are right after we launched them.
It’s an amazingly beautiful sight as more and more lanterns enter the lake and the wind starts to move them around.
On the way back we spotted this elaborate area. They must have camped out for days to get this location. There were tiki torches, tiny paper lantern string lights, tables and chairs, and a blender. Oh yes, next year we’re bringing a blender!