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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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”.
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.
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.
Click here for detailed festival schedule in English and 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
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