Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Buddha's Birthday and Lotus Lantern Festival

Although a much smaller number than it once was, a fully 23% of Koreans today declare themselves as Buddhist, and Buddhism continues to play a substantial role in the history and culture of Korea. One of the best ways to see in it action in modern day Korea -- aside from visiting one of the many beautiful Buddhist temples scattered across the mountains -- is through attending Buddha's birthday celebrations. They involve thousands of people (but then, in Korea, what doesn't?), a lantern festival and a huge parade from Dongdaemun to Jogyesa with 100 000 lanterns, which is all going to be happening this weekend!

I am so excited about it that I stole other people's picture from the internet -- shush, don't tell anyone -- and am planning on plastering them all over my blog until the weekend arrives!

If I've noticed anything since I got here, its that Korean's take their festivals and parties very seriously, and I don't plan to be a doubter like I was two weeks ago at the cherry blossom festival. Besides, what is more quintessentially and stereotypically Asian than a gigantic dragon lantern? Although, I can imagine that something along the lines of, "eating dog" or other such nonsense going through your heads back at home, I beg to disagree! I'm so excited!

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