Using Sky Lanterns

Published: 09th July 2009
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Sky lanterns are relativley new to the uk but have been used in china and thailand for hundreds of years when armies employed them as signalling devices and later were adopted by common folk, who used them to convey their wishes to heaven.

The locals believe floating candles (Sky Lanterns) offer poignancy and tranquility and the strings of breathtaking stars bring back all your ancestral spirits.

Many people celebrate the annual Yipeng Lantern Festival. Yipeng means the full moon of the twelfth lunar month in the Buddhist Calendar or the second lunar in Asia.

Others may also celebrate this festival as a tribute to chulam anee stupa in the heavens. Locals believe that the launching of Khoom Loy, or floating lanterns into the sky would rid them of all their troubles. Moreover, if the lanterns are offered to monks, they will receive wisdom in return as the flame in the lantern is said to symbolize knowledge and the light will guide them to the right path of their lives.

All across China on the 15th day of the first month of the Lunar Year master craftsmen construct multi coloured lanterns of all kinds; hand-held lanterns, flying lanterns, hanging lanterns. The paper lanterns are constructed into shapes of butterflies, dragonflies, dragons, birds and many other animals, some townships even construct their lanterns of ice!

There are many stories and beliefs of the origins of the Chinese Lantern Festival, most accounts date the festival and the beginnings of the lanterns to over 2000 years ago. Most legends surrounding the lantern certainly include religion and Buddhism.

One such legend tells the story of King Wen and his desire to promote Buddhism. The King ordered that flying lanterns, hanging lanterns and hand held lanterns be lit across all cities, towns and villages in the palaces and monastries, and the homes of aristocrats and commoners alike. The lanterns were seen to provide a lit pathway to monastries encouraging people to follow the lanterns and become Buddhists.

Another legend associated with the Lantern Festival is Taoism. Tianguan is the god of Taoist god responsible for good fortune. His birthday falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month. It has been suggested that Tianguan likes all form of entertainment and so followers parade through China with hand-held lanterns during which they pray to the God for good fortune.

The displaying of lanterns during the Lantern Festival lasts around 10 days each year marking the end of the Chinese New Year. Such festivals compose an important part of Chinese life and so the Hanging Lantern Festival quickly became and remains a huge part of Chinese Folklore.

It is considered good luck to release a 'Kratong' and 'Khom Loy', as many Thai people, especially Buddhists, believe they are symbolic of your problems and worries floating away. It is tradition to offer the lanterns to Temples and monks, as givers believe they will receive enlightenment in return, as the flame of the lantern is said to symbolize wisdom. The lantern's light shows them to the 'right path'.

If you are looking to release some sky lanterns here are some usefull tips.

The most important point to remember when releasing your lanterns is to have

fun and be safe!

• Sky lanterns are for outdoor use only and are not toys. They should be

kept away from children at all times.

• A minimum of two adults are required to light and release a sky lantern.

• Take out the folded sky lanterns carefully from the plastic wrapping, being

very careful not to tear or rip the delicate paper. If the lantern is damaged

in any way, do not use it.

• If you wish to write on the lantern, use a large permanent marker. Be

careful not to damage the lantern.

• Do not tie or add anything to the lantern.

• Before lighting the lantern, hold it by the bamboo rim and gently fill the

lantern with air to expand it fully and remove the creases in the tissue


• To light the lantern, hold it by the top and the bamboo rim whilst another

person lights the wick by holding a naked flame against it for a few




• The lantern will fill with hot air from the lit wick and be ready to be

released within approximately 60 seconds.

• Hold the lantern by the bamboo rim until the lantern is full of hot air and is

ready to float gently into the sky. An early release may cause the lantern

to fall to the ground and cause fire at the point of grounding.

If you need any more information please look at our website

Here are some usefull safety tips

Flying Lanterns - Safety Instructions

A major benefit of releasing your own Flying Lanterns, rather than lighting fireworks, is that they are far safer. To make sure

you stay safe whilst enjoying them, please follow these safety instructions:

• Sky lanterns are for outdoor use only and are not toys. They should be kept away from children at all times and only used by

competent adults. Do not use them under the influence of alcohol or drugs or otherwise if you do not feel safe.

• Completely familiarise yourself with the lanterns before lighting and launching them. Remove any protective paper from the wire

suspending the wick and the small protective plastic bag (if applicable) covering the wick before lighting. Please refer to the release

instructions for more information and follow the instructions carefully.

• Do not launch in wind conditions that make lighting the lantern difficult. In any case ensure that the wind is not stronger than 5 mph

(please refer to a weather forecast for wind speeds in your area such as

• Before the lantern is launched, the naked flame must be supervised at all times. Make sure you have water and / or fire

extinguishers at hand and keep the lantern away from any flammable materials. Do not smoke near the lantern.

• Launching a lantern in strong winds, which is torn or has burn holes or is otherwise damaged or defective may cause premature

landing and fire at the point of grounding. Do not launch the lantern in such circumstances.

• Check the wind direction prior to releasing the lanterns - obstacles such as buildings and trees and cables should not be in the

direct flight path of the lantern and must be at least 30 meters away.

• Do not release lanterns within a five mile radius of an operational airport or landing strip as the lanterns could interfere with low

flying aircraft.

• Do not release lanterns within two miles of a major road or motorway as the lanterns could come to rest in the path of a vehicle.

• Do not release the lanterns in an area where the glow could be confused as a distress signal. Please ensure you contact the local

coast guard if you intend releasing your lanterns on the beach or near the coast. This will avoid causing unnecessary alarm.

• Do not release the lanterns anywhere near dry crops or woodland or any other flammable areas. Do not release the lantern

anywhere where it may cause damage or be a nuisance.

• Prior to use, the lanterns should be kept in a dry, secure place away from children and animals. Ensure that all children are kept

under supervision and away from the source of ignition during the release.

• Do not light and release the lanterns wearing flammable clothing in case the flame from the wick ignites the clothing. For additional

safety, protective clothes can be worn.

• Once the sky lantern has been lit and released, it must not be reused.

• Launching sky lanterns in inappropriate surroundings or weather conditions or if they are damaged or defective in any way may

cause fires. It could make you liable to criminal charges or civil claims for damages.

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