The Lotus Lantern Festival (연등축제)
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The Lotus Lantern Festival
Originating from the Goryeo Dynasty's Yeondeunghoe, the Lotus Lantern Festival is one of Korea’s landmark traditional festivals which has a 600-year history. Every year, commemorating the birth of the Buddha, the festival starts around the 8th day of the 4th lunar month. Lotus lanterns symbolize the Buddhist vows to practice the bodhisattva path and help our neighbors and the world by lighting lanterns of wisdom. Korea’s Lotus Lantern Festival starts with the lighting of the mega-sized “Grand Ornate Lantern” which is located in SeoulPlaza. As one of the pre-festival activities, Traditional Lantern Exhibitions are held showing beautifully adorned lanterns in the shapes of tigers, dragons, elephants, the four heavenly kings and pagodas.
In February 2012, the Korean government designated Yeondeunghoe as Important Intangible Cultural Heritage No. 122. This has made the Lotus Lantern Festival not only a nationwide festival for Koreans but also an international festival for all global citizens. The Buddhist Street Festival offers hands-on experiences for families such as making their own lotus lanterns, painting buddhas, and playing traditional games. On the night of the Lotus Lantern Parade, the highlight of the Lotus Lantern Festival, an ocean of grand ornate lanterns and colorful hand-held lanterns brighten up the streets of downtown Seoul.
- excerpt from Buddhist English (Elementary 2) published in 2014 by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism