Six bullet trains on the Guangdong-Hainan section had to be cancelled because quite a few number of sky lanterns released by villagers were caught in the high voltage train cables. The lanterns were later untangled from the cables and normal services restored. Traditional rituals such as the one to release sky lanterns on special occasions or festivals are part of our culture, but people doing so should exercise caution so that their actions do not lead to accidents, says an article on Excerpts:


Sky lanterns are small hot air balloons made of paper. In Asia, as well as in some countries elsewhere, releasing sky lanterns is part of festivities. In China, during Lantern Festival at the end of Spring Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival and Ghost Festival, people release sky lanterns because they believe doing so brings good luck.


But the suspension of train services on the Guangdong-Hainan section during Ghost Festival (which fell on Aug 10 this year) shows how such rituals can become a public safety hazard. Five years ago, 15 flights were delayed in Sanya, Hainan, because a large number of sky lanterns were seen flying toward the airport at a height of 1,000 meters.


Although many provinces have banned sky lanterns, the tradition that is hundreds of years old cannot be eradicated through administrative orders. Chinese people still set off firecrackers during Spring Festival to usher in good luck in the new year even though the toxic smoke thus generated increases air pollution in the country.


Perhaps a better way to deal with the problem is to educate people how to prevent the sky lanterns from becoming safety hazards. For instance, in a recent blockbuster, the protagonists are seen releasing sky lanterns near the sea. Or, people could tie one end of fire-proof strings to the sky lanterns and the other end to poles so that they don't fly off and become safety hazards. Such precautions can enable people to enjoy traditional festivals without endangering other people's lives.


SOURCE: China Daily


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