Did You Know?
The concept of candlelight vigils is believed to have been originated to honor the olden-day tradition of lighting candles in devotion and prayers when someone in the house was dying.
A candlelight vigil is an outdoor gathering of a group of people to mourn for the loss of a loved one, or to support a specific cause. It is generally held at a sunset to mourn for an individual's death by remembering him in silence, and by lighting candles. It can also be held for the following reasons:
- To support a cause
- In memory of a disaster or a massacre
- To raise awareness about a disease
- To draw nationwide attention to injustice
- To show support to families who lost their loved ones or whose kids went missing in any kind of disaster
- To remember soldiers or other brave individuals
A large-scale vigil may have public address systems, and may be covered by the media. It may also have several invited speakers, who give their speeches before the beginning of the vigil, so as to explain its purpose. Apart from these, candlelight vigils may also be held for religious purposes, as seen in many churches, on Christmas Eve. The basic purpose of a vigil is to provide such a setting to the supporters, that they can gather and spread a message. Although there are no particular rules that need to be followed while hosting a vigil, here are a few ideas to make your candlelight vigil a success.
Gathering the Crowd
A candlelight vigil is not very difficult to host, however, you may need help. You can take help from your family, friends, or colleagues, or even gather volunteers on the social media. Get everyone to gather as huge a crowd as possible. More the number of people, larger the awareness of your cause. There are a plethora of ways that one can use to advertise the vigil. These include:
- Creating an event on a social networking site.
- Putting up fliers all around the neighborhood.
- Printing an advertisement in the newspaper.
Location, Date, and Time
A vigil can be held in almost any outdoor setting. They are generally held near memorial statues, near an iconic location, in front of city halls, or in parks. One should, however keep in mind to choose a location that would be accessible to volunteers across the town. Choose a location that has plenty of parking space, and is easily visible to the public. Moreover, the location could also relate to the cause of the vigil. For example, conducting a vigil for soldiers near the statue of a deceased soldier, or holding a religious vigil outside a church. It should also be made sure that an indoor option like a hall or an auditorium is available in case of bad weather conditions. The date and time should also be chosen according to the cause of the vigil. Most vigils are held at sunset, when it is dark.
Public Address System
Public address system is one of the most important aspects of a vigil. One should always remember to put someone in charge of the address system, to ensure that everything goes smoothly. You could also invite speakers to the event. The speaker should be able to communicate with the crowd effectively, and motivate and educate the people about the cause of the vigil. Depending on the cause, the speakers can share their experiences related to the event, make use of poetry or prayers, or quote leaders or historical figures. They should also thank everyone for attending the event. Also, invite people from the crowd to share their thoughts. Songs and music, either recorded or performed live, can also be used to motivate people. A coordinator or a committee should be in charge of reserving a location, filling out the necessary paperwork for permits, and contacting the speakers.
The most important aspect of your vigil - candles; make sure you've got enough of them and do not run out. Usually, plain white candles are used for vigils. The candles should be lit and burned in absolute silence, for five to ten minutes. You may also like to make a few sign boards that support your cause. The signs may have pictures, quotes, or slogans on them.
It is tragic to go through the loss of a loved one, or see injustice being done; but what is worse is letting it go unmourned. Candlelight vigils have therefore been, and will always be the best way to mourn for loss, raise awareness about a cause, or motivate people to bring a change.