In Korea, as in many countries in East Asia, Buddha's birthday is celebrated every year on the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese Lunar calender (click here for some more details). Last year, and every year I believe, in Seoul they had a hoard of celebrations for Buddha's birthday, including their annual lantern festival. Buddha's birthday is a great time, firstly you get some extra days off (it's a national holiday), secondly you get to see pretty lanterns and the such, and, thirdly, it is one of the rare times when you get to experience a really traditional celebration in Korea. There is a wonderful atmosphere at this festival, helped by summer starting to arrive I'm sure.
I was in Seoul for Buddha's birthday in 2011, here are some of my favourite photos from the long weekend.
|Stumbled upon people preparing for the parade and discovered this cute umbrella cart.|
|Lanterns ready to go.|
|People getting some children ready.|
|Testing, testing.... Yes, the smoke works!|
|Traditional band getting ready.|
|These old gals were getting their lanterns ready.|
And the parade begins....
|I loved seeing monks EVERYWHERE in Korea.|
|The floats were many and spectacular, alas my camera was not worthy.|
|Lady in a lotus flower.|
The following day, my friends and I wandered back to the historic/tourist area of Insadong. It was ram packed with foreigners and Koreans alike, all eager to soak up some culture and enjoy the festivities.
|They really like to get foreigners to join in and learn about Korea. My rosary is on my bedroom door handle back home.|
|Random child with people in traditional royal outfits.|
|Lanterns at a traditional temple. They created ceilings out of lanterns, it was spectacular.|
|People crossing the Cheonggyecheon stream.|
|Same stream, further down. It's one of my favourite parts of the city, the lanterns are all in honour of the festival.|
A day later, I went hiking in a nearby mountain. There was a buddhist temple covered in lanterns.
If you ever go to Seoul, go in the spring to see the blossom, and if you can, wait around and be there for Buddha's birthday. Just looking at these photos brings back wonderful memories for me, I hope you enjoyed them.