Lotus Lantern Festival
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|Lotus Lantern Festival By the Korea Herald|
The lotus flower is indeed one of nature’s most beautiful designs; such a delicate and intricate creation that it’s little wonder Buddhism has associated it with the divine.
Tomorrow is Buddha’s birthday, which is to Buddhism what Christmas is to Christianity. In celebration of this day, every year there is the Lotus Lantern Festival, possibly the most keenly awaited date in Korea for people of all backgrounds. This year’s festival was from April 24 to April 26, but if you missed out, there are still events planned for Saturday.
A real community spirit was present that included everyone. If you missed out this year, it’s worth bearing in mind for next year. Alternatively, on May 2, a Buddhist ceremony marking Buddha’s birthday will be held at temples nationwide.
In Seoul, Jogyesa temple will see one of the most attended celebrations. Also, Bongeunsa temple, in Samseong-dong, will host an exhibition of traditional lanterns until May 5.
The color, culture and vibrancy of this festival are marvels to behold. It’s certainly the case that the Lotus Lantern Festival is much more than just another weekend parade. This is a truly an international event with people from all over the Buddhist world in attendance.
There was plenty of dancing and singing in the rain on Saturday night close to Jogyesa, as people’s spirits refused to be dampened by the weather.
There were several options for places to be on the day itself. At Jang-chung gymnasium there were a variety of beautiful performances to watch. They ranged from elegant and graceful fan dances to more dynamic routines with flowing dresses.
Another place to be before the big show was in and around Jogyesa. This area had plenty of live performances to watch on stage, and also things to make and do. On the street outside Jogyesa you could make your own lantern. And if you were hungry, why not try the cuisine from North Korea? If that wasn’t your cup of tea, you could have watched a traditional Korean tea ceremony. The last act to perform on the street stage was a lion dance.
The day was to finish with the crescendo of the parade itself. The parade began at Donguk University, passed Dongdaemum, and finished at Jogyesa temple.
The buzz and excitement certainly provided an adrenaline rush. As well as the lanterns, there were giant fire breathing dragons, elephants and women standing atop large beautiful lotus lanterns.
With the parade finished, it was time for one last party at the Jongak intersection as a large crowd reveled into the night while watching performances on the stage erected for the festival.
This is truly one of the most wonderful things to experience in Korea.
To get to Bongeunsa temple, go to Samseong Station, Line 2. To get to Jogyesa temple, go to Jonggak Station, Line 3. To get to Jongno street, go to Jonggak Station, Line 3.
For more information, including a schedule of events, go to www.llf.or.kr
By Simon Bond
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