Tuesday, June 11, 2013

"I said, 'remember this moment' in the back of my mind"

The Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul is an absolutely incredible event! It's in honor of Buddha's birthday and a grand celebration!! Before the first event, the Lotus Lantern Parade, there is a Buddhist cheer rally, kind of a big pep rally where the participants in the parade get pumped up for later that evening.

Just about everyone was wearing their hanbok (the Korean traditional dress), all the monks were in their robes, and there were thousands of lanterns made of hanji (traditional paper) in various shapes, sizes, and colors. This energetic pep rally lasted a couple hours and was filled with lots of dancing, some chanting/praying and singing as well. There was even a "Happy Birthday Buddha" song haha!

The parade was held in the downtown area of Seoul. It lasted a couple hours and was absolutely extraordinary! Music, giant floats made of paper, and hundreds and hundreds of glowing lanterns. It looked like I'd stepped into a Disney movie. Tangled anyone?

Words can't do it justice, not even pictures...but I'll try.

 But, videos will probably show it best. (Don't worry they're all really short!)

After the parade, I marveled at the temple completely covered in bright glowing lanterns. I was also able to get a closer look at the parade floats and the lanterns.

And then there was the after party!

The following day the festival was in full force! There were countless Buddha-related craft tables! I literally wanted to stay there all day making things, but unfortunately the bus for my town leaves way too early. I did get the chance to make a paper lotus flower, a charcoal rub picture, and a happiness charm. There was also lantern making, prayer beads, necklaces, wishing fans, clay Buddhas, places to try meditation, sample temple food, and have monks bless your wishes. So many fascinating booths/displays about Buddhism to explore as well as monks from several countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, India, etc. So interesting!

I absolutely loved this festival! Probably my favorite so far! An unbelievable weekend I will never forget!

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