Last week, on the 3rd of May, was a national holiday for Buddha’s birthday. Known as Seokgatansinil 석가 탄신일 or Bucheonim Osinal 부처님 오신 날 (the day that Buddha came) in Korean, it’s a big deal here in Korea where Buddhism is the largest religious group. Celebrations normally last around a week, and begin before the big day, including the Lotus Lantern Festival held in Seoul, and other events across the country. The entire centre of Seoul was decked out in lanterns for the week before Buddha’s birthday, and the weekend prior to the 3rd saw a large lantern parade weave through the city centre and end up at Jogyesa Temple.
Jogyesa 조계사 is the centre of Korean Buddhism. It is the head temple for the district, and in fact the entire country, for the Jogye order of Buddism. Because of this, Jogyesa (with ‘Jogye’조계 being the order of Buddhism and ‘sa’ 사 meaning ‘temple’) plays a central role in the celebrations for Buddha’s birthday. On the 3rd of May they saw a LOT of visitors, both for prayer and tourism, and when I arrived they were packing down from a large event of prayer and celebration.
Because I’m a bad tourist, I didn’t make it in time for the event itself, but I was pleased to arrive to all the lanterns intact and on display. They were just starting to dismantle the bright, colourful canopies of lights as I was walking around, so I had made it just in time! There were a wide array of lanterns to see, and I even got to see some of the creations that had been shown in the Yeondeunghoe parade the Saturday earlier.
These are just a few of the many photos I took while I was there. I’m sure you can imagine, I was very snap happy. And, really, who wouldn’t be with a place this photogenic?!
You can read more about Jogyesa Temple on the official Korea tourism website.