23 C
Mossel Bay
1st December 2023



Annlerie van Rooyen

There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it. Edith Wharton
On 21 December 2018 the annual Lights & Lanterns festival, a celebration of kindness, compassion and gratitude, will enchant and delight onlookers for the third time as more than a thousand candles will be floated on the Great Brak River. This year promises to be even more spectacular as several new and exciting elements have been added.

The festival is the initiative of Laurinda Smit from Great Brak, well-known for her mandalas, sculptures, quirky wirework and sculpture garden. Laurinda’s creativity and ideas flow from a place of being fully in the moment, a gift that she shares with others with great enthusiasm and commitment.
Where did she get the idea for this festival?

“I started my sculpture garden many moons ago and wanted to introduce a theme of light. So I used recycled electric piping and plastic bottles to create candle-lit walkways and also placed receptacles for candles throughout the garden. My wish was to create a place where people could become still, where they could find refuge from the hectic external world, where they could be reminded of the light within and the light that is always there to illuminate our journeys.

“In 2015 my mom turned 80 and to surprise her, my nephew and I cut white plastic milk containers in half, placed candles inside and arranged them to form the number 80 in my garden. The reflections were beautiful and my mom was overjoyed. This ceremony highlighted several things for me – that the simplest gestures could create moments of great happiness and pleasure; that special times with family are truly precious; that the smallest glimmer of light, even from one humble candle, is magnificent; and most importantly, that it is vital to spread light in whichever way we can.

“There and then a desire was born to create an event with light being the main focus. I wanted to do something on a much larger scale so that I could share it with as many people as possible. While considering possible venues, I realized that it was right on my doorstep: I could float hundreds of candles on the beautiful Great Brak River. With the mountains as backdrop and the roar of the ocean in the background, it was the perfect setting.

“I have so much to be grateful for and the Lights & Lanterns festival is one of the ways in which I choose to express my gratitude. Sharing this with people will hopefully remind them of the importance of being with loved ones, enjoying an unhurried, relaxed evening under the stars. With this ceremony, my hope is also to give everyone an opportunity to reflect on values like abundance, love and kindness, to pause awhile in stillness before embarking on the new year. Underlying all of this is my belief that we can unite through simplicity, that each one of us through our actions of compassion and generosity, can spread light through the world. In fact, it is our responsibility to do so.

“I use only recycled material for the festival – plastic bottles, discarded electric piping and wires. Everything is placed on floatable pallets, with the bottles weighed down with sand for safety purposes. The greatest care possible is taken to ensure that no pollution takes place in the river or on the riverbanks. To achieve this, several people in canoes or boats stay on the river throughout the event and a cleanup takes place immediately afterwards.

“Cards and candles will be sold beforehand. People can write any message – of appreciation, positivity, inspiration, hope and love – on the cards and attach them to the illuminated maypoles. Containers for the candles will be provided on the ground.

“My greatest wish for this festival is that it will continue long after I am gone, that it will always be a part of Great Brak River, that it will always remind people to spread light, to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it.”

The festival will take place on 21 December 2018 opposite the police station in Great Brak River. Cards and candles will be on sale (R20 for both) from 12 November 2018 at the Total garage in Great Brak River.
Laurinda Smit can be contacted on 082 738 8011 or 044 620 3144.

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Annlerie van Rooyen