To the biggest annual fest of Korea which celebrates Buddha’s Birthday as “Lotus lantern festival “  (LLF) is just around the corner.

Last year, I was new to Korea and heard a lot about the festival lanterns and their aura. I was able to go to the festival only on the last day when the biggest “Buddha lantern” was lit. In less than a year, I am so surprised to see how wonderful things have turned into. Getting selected this year as a “Lotus Lantern Festival Global Supporter “ is thrilling and soul nourishing.

Our story as Global supporters and Invitation to Lotus Lantern Festival 2017 , Seoul, South Korea
2017 Lotus lantern festival Global supporters
After a quick interview, 80 young people from 27 countries were selected to learn about Buddhism and the Lotus Lantern Festival a month before it started (Yeong Deung Hoe). What is a festival without understanding the essence of it? In fact, it did help us a lot to get so enthusiastic about the culture and festival.  
The first step we did was the “Temple stay “ at “Jinkwansa “ temple. One of the four important temples located in the west of Seoul. The name Jingwan came into being since the temple was dedicated to its preceptor “Jinkwan” in 1010 BC by King Hyeonjong.  
Jinkwansa temple in the beautiful background of Bukhansan Mountains
This beautiful temple in the surroundings of Bukhansan National park is so peaceful in the proximity of only 10 mins from Yeonsinnae subway station. As Global supporters of LLF 2017, we had a chance to participate in a one night two day temple stay program.
Our Happy Supporters !
Yes! we stayed in the temple without thinking of past and future. It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. Instead it was peaceful and joyful all the time. We wore clothes provided by the temple authorities, ate temple cooked food, listened to teachings of Buddha and tried to follow the temple etiquettes during those days. I had my best time spent in tranquility of nature and in stillness of teachings of Buddha along with other global supporters.

 

Nature and its serenity in temple premises
I believe it was slightly different from regular temple stays as we practiced festival dances a lot and had some fun games to interact with other supporters. We also learned how to make paper lanterns as part of learning culture. It was more like a youth tour with purpose; and with so much fun on a mission too.
Lanterns made of Happiness 🙂
Fun on a mission 🙂
We learnt many teachings from our monk. The very first teaching we received was “ Don’t say that you are human in front of a thousand year old temples and million year old nature.” We loved our Sunim. She was so insightful, caring and funny. we had a temple tour along with sunim listening to many profound stories. Also, we are fortunate to participate in “Ring the Bell ceremony”
Our dearest Sunim
Peaceful Temple complex surrounding Mountains
Our next meet was back in Seoul where the launching ceremony for the biggest National Festival is held on April 4th. Later again, all supporters gathered again at “Gwanghawmun square“ welcoming everyone with festival dances for “Lighting ceremony”.
Lighting ceremony in Gwanghawmun square
When sunim and supporters like to be together
After, we had a session learning about the history of Lotus Lantern Festival and its culture. Again all supporters gathered a couple of more times to practice dance more and more along with planning the festival.
We can’t wait anymore now to showcase our performances and teach you all the festival Dances we’ve learnt. Most importantly, we can’t wait to engage in the most colorful cultural festival of Korea. Many small lanterns are already seen hung around the city in major temples, cross sections and subways.
Jogyesa temple decorated in colorful lanterns
Now it’s time to see the artistic Hanji paper creations of different lanterns  by various organizations. Now that the parades are scheduled, traditional performances  are planned and cultural exhibitions are designed to fill the wisdom in audience, we “ The Global supporters of LLF 2017 “ would like to invite you all to the most prestigious cultural event of korea.
When : April 28th to May 3rd
Where : Jogye- sa temple, Bongeun – sa temple. Cheonggye- cheon stream,
              Dongduk university stadium, Jongno street, Jonggak Intersection, Street in front of Jogye-sa temple, Insa- dong
Here is the festival schedule and Transport Information.

 

Festival schedule and location
Click here for detailed festival schedule  in English and in Korean
Festival schedule in English
Festival schedule in Korean

For more information visit  http://www.llf.or.kr/eng/

 Some of the Highlights of the festival are:  
  • Lantern Parade  –  Thousands of lanterns including Buddha lanterns, Lotus lanterns, Wisdom lanterns, Disciple lanterns, Peace lanterns,Dragon lanterns,  even cartoon character lanterns are going to be displayed all along the parade in Jongno street.  The interesting part is that visitors can also join the parade of these magnificent lights passing through the centre of Seoul.
    Schedule and Location : 29th April, Jongno street- from Dongdaemun gate to Jogyesa temple from 7 pm to 9:30 pm
    Stunning lantern parade in heart of Seoul

    Buddhist believers carry lotus lanterns during a parade to celebrate the upcoming birthday of Buddha, which falls May 10 in South Korea, in Seoul May 7, 2011. REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won (SOUTH KOREA – Tags: RELIGION)
  • Eoulim Madang – also called as Buddhist Cheer Rally, is held just before the parade. You can enjoy various performances and experience the significant ceremony of bathing baby Buddha and the Dhamma service before starting off the parade.
    Schedule and Location : 29th April, Dongguk University stadium – from 4:30 to 6: 00 pm
  • Traditional cultural events – As part of the festival, LLF provides the opportunity to experience culture directly by sharing in the partaking of temple food and making lanterns on your own.
    Schedule and Location : 30th April, Street in front of Jogye- sa temple- from 12 pm to 7:00 pm
If you miss any of these highlights in the weekend. you also have opportunity to soak in the details of magnificent paper made (Hanji-made ) lanterns  through exhibitions at Jogye- sa Temple, Bongeun – sa Temple and Cheonggye-cheon stream area until May 7th.
Paper made colorful lantern display shining bright in cheongghye-cheon stream
In addition, Don’t miss out the vital day of the festival on May 3rd i.e, “Buddha’s Birthday”, a national holiday to witness the Dhamma ceremony of lightening lanterns in any of the temples across nation.
Hanji made Buddha lantern lights up on the final day of festival
People flock to South Korea from all over the world to attend this Lotus Lantern Festival as it is the oldest traditional festival of korea. It is said to have been originated more than 1200 years ago. It has passed through different eras and is still observed as an annual tradition today. Participants are encouraged to get involved in the cultural events of the festival as a symbol of solidarity for harmony and togetherness.
If you are in Korea, then you must not miss it. Are you all set to connect with the aura of the lanterns along with us ?? Hope you all would enjoy the festival as much as we do and take back wisdom and compassion of Buddha in the form of lantern lights.
Happy festivities from Global Supporters of Lotus lantern Festival 2017!

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