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Bulbokjang: Enshrinement of Precious Buddhist Relics

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Writer admin Date11 Jul 2014 Read15,255 Comment0

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Bulbokjang: Enshrinement of Precious Buddhist Relics
 
The First Public Bulbokjang Demonstration by the Jogye Order
 
Can there ever be a more solemn ceremony in this world? Carefully chanting mantras for the entire duration of three hours, Bulbokjang ceremony (Enshrinement of the Buddha’s relics) was carried out with no oversight until its conclusion.
 
Considered as one of the most traditional Buddhist ceremonies, which can set a breath of life into Buddha statues, Bulbokjang demonstration performed on July 9, 2014 at the Traditional Cultural Performance Theater in the Center for Korean Buddhist History and Culture (Jogye Order HQ Administration Building) received a most pleasant response from the public audience. While this comprehensive Buddhist cultural art was being performed for an extended periods of time, the audience held on to their breath and focused intently on each step of the ceremony. Explanations were also offered by the specialists during the ceremony for the general public with a limited knowledge of this tradition.
 
Without Bulbokjang ceremony, even the most expensive golden Buddhist statue would simply remain as a decoration. Hence, this ceremony has the power to transform simple statues into an object of great veneration, comparable to that of boosting life into human.
 

 

 
< Ven. Gyeong-am constructs reliquary to store Buddhist articles)        
 
Bokjang is composed of 5 elements and principles of nature. With the Buddha’s Sarira situated in the center, the four directions of the East, West, North, and South are assigned accordingly. Then a beautiful jar of five jewels is created with five colored jewels, herbs, grains, incense, etc that symbolize five directions. The five medicines/herbs are for subduing the defilements of the world and five incenses (symbolizing offerings to the Buddha) represent offering of precepts, concentration, wisdom, liberation, and knowledge.
 
A Huryongtong, a larger reliquary enshrining the five jewel jar is placed inside the statue, and then concluding phase of the ceremony is performed to awaken Buddha’s wisdom and finally enshrined inside the Dharma Hall.
 
Typically, a minimum of 8~10 hrs is required to complete the ceremony, however this demonstration was shortened to only a quarter of time normally required. The members of the Sangha opened the ceremony starting with the prayers for the divine Dharma protectors, then confirmed the commencement of the ceremony, then purification of the altar, and finally recitation of The Great Dharani from the Thousand Eyes and Hands Sutra to purify the Bodhi-mandala (the Dharma Hall).



 
<Ven. Mu-ghwan enshrines a Buddhist sutra inside the Buddhist statue>
 
The master of the five directions assembled the Five Jewel Jar- enshrined within are five grains, jewels, five seeds, and flowers from every season. After every element is enshrined inside the Huryongtong, Sangha members recited appropriate mantras towards the altar. Finally, this reliquary is enshrined in the abdomen of the Buddha statue, along with various Buddhist scriptures and Dharanis which concluded the ceremony.
 
A speech from the Most Ven. Ja-seung (president of the Jogye Order) was read on behalf by Ven. Hye-il (Director of Department of Culture) which stated, “Bokjang Ceremony is for the realization of Dharmakaya. Therefore, the principles of the ceremony is mysterious and procedures most profound.” Ven. also added, “through this short demonstration, this Intangible Buddhist Cultural Heritage will be accepted around the world for its value as a traditional Korean culture.”     
 
Ven. Mu-gwan (President of the Traditional Bulbokjang Ceremony of the Jogye Order and Committee for the Preservation of Traditional Rituals) stated during the opening of the ceremony, “This Bokjang ceremony which empowers the statue with Buddha’s wisdom and virtues has a very long tradition. It originates from the Josanggyeong Sutra (sacrificial rites Sutra for the ancestors)” and added, “This is a significant experience for the Buddhists interested in enshrinement of Buddhist statues and performance of Buddhist rituals. For the Buddhist assembly, the enshrinement of the Buddha’s sarira as an object of veneration is more significant than simply seeing it as a cultural asset.”
 
The demonstration was hosted by the Preservation Society of Traditional Bulbokjang Ceremony and organized by the Buddhist Research Institute of Cultural Heritage. The preservation society was launched to preserve important Buddhist ceremonies in order for the next generation of Buddhists to learn Buddhism with respect and devotion.
 
An academic seminars will be held in October for a more comprehensively study of Enshrinement of the Buddha’s relics.

 
  < Ven. Do-seung announces initiation of the Ceremony>





< Ven. Mu-gwan >



< Ven. Seong-oh >







< Ven. Jeon-gak >



 
 
 
 

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