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April/May – Lotus Lantern Festival, South Korea

SOUTH KOREA | Thursday, 24 March 2011 | Views [9751]

Location: Seoul, South Korea

Dates: late April or early May (dependent upon lunar calendar)

Level of Participation: 3 – soak up the festival experience – taste temple food, enjoy artistic performances and create your own lotus lantern

Description:

Yeondeung, or the lighting of the lantern, is a ritual that dates back to AD 866 when the Shilla Dynasty lit a lantern as an offering to Buddha. Since then, the practice has evolved, and grown into the Lotus Lantern Festival featuring thousands of lanterns. The festival is a celebration of the birth of Buddha; this is symbolically represented by the lighting of a single, large lantern in the City Hall plaza that remains lit for the duration of the event.

During the Lotus Lantern Festival, the Buddhist Street Festival provides a hands-on experience for both Koreans and visitors alike. Traditional musical, dance and martial arts performances fill the streets and sacred temple food and traditional Korean treats are available for tasting. There is an exhibit of ornate traditional lanterns and visitors can create their own souvenir lotus lanterns in efforts to attain enlightenment, and to display in the parade.

The festival’s most impressive sight by far, is the lotus lantern parade, a three hour procession of over 100,000 luminous lanterns and dozens of floats drifting dreamily along to classical Korean music. The lanterns are shaped like various fruits and animals and of course, the lotus flower, signifying values such as health, virtue and prosperity. This follows the Korean saying: attain Buddha-hood in your next lifetime by lighting a lantern in this life. Each lantern is unique in its material, shape and design, in accordance with the individuality and values of its designer.

The festival concludes with the Daedong, Being Together, celebration when parade participants and spectators join hand-in-hand and perform a circular dance as pink lotus petals shower down upon them.

Essentials:

If you only have one day to enjoy the festival, plan on going for the day of the parade as the true highlight is the visual carnival of watching thousands of lanterns float by.

Local Attractions:

Visit the Namdangol Hanok Village, a traditional Korean village, set in stark contrast to the skyscrapers that surround it. Explore the five restored houses from the Joseon Dynasty or wander around the serene pond for a glimpse of history in the heart of cosmopolitan Seoul.

More Info: http://www.llf.or.kr/eng/


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Tags: buddhism, lotus lantern festival, south korea, world festivals

 

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