Buddha’s Birthday

May 12, 2008 Author: Beth Salerno

Deodonsa Main Hall Covered in LanternsMonday, May 12th is Buddha’s Birthday.  In a country with equal numbers of Christians and Buddhists, it is not surprising that both Buddha’s and Christ’s birthdays are national holidays.  Buddha’s birthday is also a major day of prayer, celebration and fundraising for Korean Buddhists.  For over a month, temples have been lining their streets, courtyards, and temple interiors with brightly-colored paper lanterns.  Each has a tag attached, sending up a prayer for a family member, loved one, or friend.  At night, all the lanterns twinkle and shine, lighting the way for souls traveling to heaven (and for believers and tourists wandering to the temple).Deodonsa Lanterns and kimchi pots

For a variety of reasons I missed the famous Lantern parade last weekend in Seoul.  But today I walked through the rice fields to the temple in Pyeongtaek and saw the lanterns, the fire-breathing dragon, and the bowing, blow-up monk that greeted the faithful and the curious.  I could not take many pictures there, but over the past month I visited a few temples to see the decorations and feel the building excitement.  You can see the pictures by clicking on the ones in this blog and then on the “Buddhism” set to the right.  The lantern pictures are the first 10 in the set.

Entry Filed under: religion

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Paul Calzada  |  May 14, 2008 at 8:40 am

    These are great pictures, Beth! Thanks! I was in Japan for years and never knew the Buddha’s birthday was May 12. Perhaps it’s because Shinto plays such a large role. There are plenty of Buddhist temples in Japan, comparable to the ones in your pictures, but Shinto shrines are even more ubiquitous. Some of the items and details of the Korean Buddhist temples I never saw in Japan. Thanks for sharing!

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