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100,000 Lanterns Color the Street of Jongno
On May 7th, Lantern Parade in Dongguk University and Jongno Area
100,000 lanterns created magnificent scenery on Jongno street. On May 7th and 8th, about 30,000 Buddhists, citizens of Seoul, and foreign visitors gathered and enjoyed the lantern festival in Dongguk University and the street in front of the Wujeongguk building near Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism.
On May 7th, the lantern parade begun with an event called “Uhwulim-madang” at the Dongguk University’s main stadium. The lantern parade, which was the highlight of the festival, elevated the excitement when a stream of 10,000 lanterns flew through Dongguk University, Dongdaemun (East Gate), and Jongno Street. Many lanterns in the images of the Dharma protectors, elephants, dragons, Geobukseon (Korean Turtle Ship), helicopter and other impressive images led the parade and about 50,000 Buddhists with individually made lanterns followed the parade to revisit the true meaning of the Buddha’s birthday. However, a couple of controversial lanterns (due to its copy right issues), ‘Pororodeung’ and ‘Thomas the train’, were regretfully not showcased in this parade. After the parade, a Buddhist memorial at Jonggak street unified approximately 300,000 Buddhists, citizens of Seoul, and foreign visitors beyond religion and race for a grand celebration.
Buddhist Cultural Festival Opens in front of Jogye Order
On May 8th noon, a Buddhist Cultural Festival took its place at the Jogye Order’s courtyard as a part of the cultural experience program. On the second day of the Lantern Festival, the Buddhist Cultural Festival featured 8 themes with 120 booths demonstrating international Buddhism, traditional crafts, traditional games, sharing events, NGO presentations, clearing and sharing of mind, lantern making workshop for foreign visitors, and farmer’s market.
The ‘International Buddhism Booth’ introduced the Korean culture and Buddhism; featured activities which include lantern making, International Young Buddhist Networking, Hanbok trial (traditional Korean costume), Danju making (short prayer beads), tea ceremony, Templestay, making Korean names. Many other booths were installed, which represent Buddhism from various countries, such as Sri Lanka, Tibet, Mongolia, Cambodia, Nepal, Thailand, Taiwan, India and Myanmar.
The ‘Traditional Korean Culture’ booths featured workshops that taught Thangka painting, prostrations, making incense, lotus candles, wish fulfilling lotus, making Buddhist objects with plasters, Korean masks, lotus fans, traditional symbol stamps, Hanji (traditional Korean paper) crafts, lotus lanterns, lotus flowers, as well as family motto writings, painting Mandalas with incense, and printing of books.
The ‘Traditional Games’ booths taught activities, such as Neolttwigi (Korean jumpinggame, similar tosee-sawing), Mangchagi and Mangjoopgi (Korean hop scotch), Tuho (throwing arrows in a jar), Biseokchigi (throwing rocks to knock out the other player’s rock), Gomoojool-nori (jumping and dancing around a long rubber band), Gonggi-nori (throwing and catching five small rocks to gain points), stacking blocks, tugs of war, jumping ropes, making Jegi (must prevent a toy Jegi from falling on the ground with our feet), making tops, and make-a-wish ceremony.
The ‘Sharing Events’ demonstrated compassion through activities such as making lotus flowers with Hanji, Origami pagodas, handkerchiefs, cell phone charms, introducing Buddhist applications for smart phones, Dharma talk for children, painting Buddhist portraits, Buddhist Dancheong and other Buddhist characters,distributing Buddhist books, and how to sign up for organ donations.
The NGO booths gathered Buddhist civic groups that provided programs like dentist on wheels, fair trade products, modern Hanbok, no leftovers campaign, learning about multi-cultural families, making pressed flower craft and organic soaps, pottery making, free acupuncture exams, experiencing Seonmudo, experiencing the lives of people with special needs, and wheelchair licensing.
Farmer’s Market featured traditional Korean temple cuisine, traditional Korean food, and North Korea cuisine which provided many joyful moments for the celebration participants.
Lantern Making Competition was the most popular event for the foreign tourists. This program was led by the International Dharma Instructors Association, where the participants can make their own lanterns.
‘Clearing and Sharing of Minds’ booths demonstrated workshops on Buddhist Art, postcard making, face painting, and writing sutras. Along with the Buddhist Cultural Festival, there were Performing Festival and Lantern Ceremony.
From 10 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Performance Festival, near Wujoengguk Street in front of Jogyesa temple, the festival began with Gilnori (a form of Korean Farmer’s Band), and performances from Tibet, Mongol, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, were shown. Also, there were various other activities, such as high-wire walking, temple crane dance, Youngsanjae (a form of Korean dance), Korean Farmer’s Band, Seonmudo (a form of martial art), Lion Dance, percussion performance, dance competition, and Korean traditional games. From 7 p.m. to 9 p.m., the Lantern Festival marched through the Insa-dong area, followed by a performance by cheering group, and Nanjang feast dance.