Tomorrow, May 17th, is a national holiday in South Korea. Korean Buddhists will be celebrating 석가탄신일 (Seokga tansinil), Buddha’s birthday, also called 부처님 오신 날 (Bucheonim osin nal), “the day when Buddha came”.
Many tourists come to Korea to witness this month-long celebration. There are lantern parades all over the country, but Seoul holds one of the most resplendent Buddha’s Birthday parades in Asia. I was looking forward to going to the Lotus Lantern Festival this year, but hubby and I missed it (again). T.T
Throughout the month, lotus lanterns surround temples across the country and are lit up at night. Sometimes, the streets are also decorated with lanterns in different shapes and colors. Each shape symbolizes a special meaning such as good health, long life, hope or abundant harvest.
On my way home tonight, I was looking out the bus window and I could see illuminated lanterns lining the streets of Seoul. It reminded me of Christmas in the Philippines when the streets are adorned with kaleidoscopic Christmas lanterns as early as October. My husband told me that Buddha’s Birthday is more like Christmas in South Korea.
South Korea is one of the best countries to go to on Buddha’s birthday. There are various attractions and activities even non-Buddhists will truly appreciate. Among these include the lighting ceremony, parades, traditional lantern exhibits, lantern making and cultural performances.
If you missed this year’s 석가탄신일, watch out for next year’s celebration. In 2014, Buddha’s birthday falls on May 6th.
- Colorful Canopy of Lanterns Brightens Seoul, South Korea (mymodernmet.com)
- Lotus Lantern Festival 2013 (koronicles.wordpress.com)
- Bathe In This Festival For The Buddha’s Birthday! (theodmgroup.com)
- Lotus Lantern Festival (thekoreaexperiment.wordpress.com)
- Face Of The Day (aprilihya.wordpress.com)
- A Trip to South Korea (thaiphong.wordpress.com)
- destination: lotus lantern festival 2013 (bodyandseoulblog.wordpress.com)
- Busan Lantern Festival (terricole87.wordpress.com)
- The Kimchi-ite: Seoul’s Spectacular Lotus Lantern Festival (gadling.com)