South Korea Celebrates Buddha’s Birthday with Famous Parade
South Korea Celebrates Buddha’s Birthday with Famous Parade
Lanterns bearing the Wan symbol, the symbol of the Buddha, are carried through the streets of Seoul in the Lotus Lantern Parade. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

Lanterns bearing the Wan symbol, the symbol of the Buddha, are carried through the streets of Seoul in the Lotus Lantern Parade. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

A woman stops to admire the display of paper lanterns at Jogyesa Temple on May 4th. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

A woman stops to admire the display of paper lanterns at Jogyesa Temple on May 4th. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

Students volunteers prepare paper lanterns for the Lotus Lantern Parade at Dongguk University on May 8, three days before the event. Dongguk University is the oldest Buddhist University in Korea. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

Students volunteers prepare paper lanterns for the Lotus Lantern Parade at Dongguk University on May 8, three days before the event. Dongguk University is the oldest Buddhist University in Korea. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

Korean Buddhists dance and cheer at a pre-parade rally held at Dongguk University in downtown Seoul. Buddhists from around the country gathered here on the afternoon of the parade. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

Korean Buddhists dance and cheer at a pre-parade rally held at Dongguk University in downtown Seoul. Buddhists from around the country gathered here on the afternoon of the parade. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

Paper lanterns wait to be collected and lit at the Buddhist Rally in Dongguk University. In the weeks and months leading up to the event, Buddhist communities around the country make colorful lanterns to represent their temple in the Lotus Lantern Parade. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

Paper lanterns wait to be collected and lit at the Buddhist Rally in Dongguk University. In the weeks and months leading up to the event, Buddhist communities around the country make colorful lanterns to represent their temple in the Lotus Lantern Parade. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

Believers and visitors gather around the main Buddha statue at Jogye Temple in downtown Seoul. Jogye Temple was originally founded in 1395, and is the chief temple of the Jogye School of Buddhism. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

Believers and visitors gather around the main Buddha statue at Jogye Temple in downtown Seoul. Jogye Temple was originally founded in 1395, and is the chief temple of the Jogye School of Buddhism. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

Giant lanterns in the shape of Buddhas and Buddhist deities are pushed through the streets of Seoul. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

Giant lanterns in the shape of Buddhas and Buddhist deities are pushed through the streets of Seoul. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

Women dressed in traditional Korean dress, known as Hanbok, carry paper lanterns. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

Women dressed in traditional Korean dress, known as Hanbok, carry paper lanterns. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

The lanterns in the parade come in many shapes and sizes. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

The lanterns in the parade come in many shapes and sizes. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

A boy watches the Lotus Lantern Parade from atop his father's shoulders. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

A boy watches the Lotus Lantern Parade from atop his father's shoulders. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

Lanterns in the shape of Korean letters. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

Lanterns in the shape of Korean letters. (Jarrod Hall/The Epoch Times)

On the evening of Saturday May 11, thousands of Korean Buddhists carried paper lanterns through the streets of downtown Seoul. The Lotus Lantern Parade celebrates Korean Buddhist culture and traditions. It’s one of the country’s most popular annual events.

The two and a half hour parade launched the Lotus Lantern festival, which lasts for one week and is held each year in May to mark the birthday of the Buddha. The festival features Buddhist ceremonies, performances of traditional music and ritual dance as well as folk games, temple food and meditation.

“This Buddhist festival is really important to me because I can share Buddhism’s features with others,” said Amy Kim, a university student from Seoul, “It’s not just about belief – I can show other people, this is how we do things…. It makes me feel proud.”

The festival is called Yeondeunghoe in Korean, which literally means “lantern lighting”. The lighting of lanterns to celebrate Buddha’s birthday has been observed in Korea since the Goryeo Dynasty, over 1000 years ago. The lanterns symbolise the light of wisdom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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