In my first post on the Seoul Lantern Festival, I referred to the one that takes place in late Autumn along the river. There is in fact two. This lantern festival is a month long and is in relation to Buddha’s birthday on 5 May.
I was invited by a wonderful new travelling friend to join in on the Spring Lotus Festival that took place on the weekend before Buddha’s birthday.
What is it?
The lantern festival is a celebration of Buddha’s birthday and all Buddhist temples across Seoul and Korea get to take part in the parade. It’s also a celebration of unity and new beginning and you will get devotees from all countries and faiths also taking part in the parade.
Leading up to the lantern festival, the temples are decorated n wonderful colourful lanterns across the courtyards with offerings of tea. Jongwholsea Temple in Jongno is the best place to see these decorations in mid-April.
There are also new and traditional hanji-made lanterns that are part of the floats, as well as chanting, music, dances and performances. It’s rather amazing how creative they can get with a paper lantern. On a warm Spring night, it’s a wonderful outdoor activity and the parade is spectacular.
When and Where
The main parade day will take place on the weekend before May 5th. The procession starts in the South of Seoul at Samseong station and proceeds all the way up to Jongno in the North of Seoul. Anyone can also join in the walk with the procession. Most people gather along the streets of Jongno-2ga to watch the parade come in.
For 2 months, there are activities regarding the lighting of the lanterns every weekend in Seoul for devoted Buddhists and visitors.
It’s only 2 hours long, and
start from 7pm to 9 pm. I also want to say a special thanks to Titi, for inviting me to this event. She was one intense MC and dancer for her volunteer group!
So here are some pictures I snapped of this amazing parade.
As, said before, all temples in and around Seoul get to take part in the parade and procession. Temple goers and monks all take part in the procession donned in various hanboks and traditional costume while holding lanterns. Families and kids who are part of the temple also get to walk along.
There are various traditional musical performances and dances that take place before and during the procession.
Lanterns, lanterns everywhere
You’ll find each procession holding unique lanterns in the parade. They also have huge lantern characters in between such as a fire breathing dragon, peacocks and some traditional characters from folktales. Most of the characters are related to Buddhist stories from various cultures.
It was definitely a cool event. Unlike the lantern festival on the river, this one has live-action performances with song and dance. I have also finally made my first travel video! A short mish-mash of some of the parade: