I have to admit now that I missed most of the Lotus Lantern Festival (연등회). I did, however, manage to make it to Jogyesa Temple to see an endless sky of colorful lanterns. Instead of seeing the parade and partaking in a bunch of the festivities, my friends and I spent a good portion of Buddha’s birthday in an Escape Room. GOOD NEWS: WE GOT OUT WITH A LITTLE LESS THAN SEVEN MINUTES TO SPARE. You’re basically reading the blog post of a genius. Take it in. Take it all in.
Anyway, Buddha’s birthday is celebrated on the 8th day of the 4th lunar month (Chinese calendar). I have seen colorful lotus lanterns strewn about the city for a few weeks now, which have definitely made everything more beautiful. My friend Jolan and I stumbled upon Daegaksa Temple (대각사) two weeks ago and it was a lovely find.
Jogyesa Temple, the chief temple of the Jogye order, is located in the heart of Seoul. Unlike many temples which are surrounded by mountains, this one has skyscrapers around it. If you are interested in temple stays, look no further. The monks here have been teaching Buddhism for over 100 years. Although I have not done a temple stay yet, I plan on doing one in the future. Buddhism has always interested me and I would like to learn more about it. One of my favorite movies, a Korean film called “Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter… and Spring,” is about a Buddhist monk “going through the seasons of his life.”
People lined up, took their shoes off, and went inside the temple to see the Buddha triad (Surkgahmohnee Buddha, Medicine Buddha, Amitabha Buddha). As much as I wanted to go inside, I opted against it. Although I am a lover of culture, I did not want to take away from the experience of those it mattered most to.
The Lotus Lantern Festival is on the list of Korea’s Important Intangible Cultural Property. There are cheer rallies, parades, and so much more. Again, I missed most of it this year, but thoroughly enjoyed the parts I did experience. I highly recommend participating in the festivities if you have the chance. Happy Birthday, Buddha!
I call this “Man in the Way.”