Lotuses unite Korean and Thai lantern festivals

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Lotuses unite Korean and Thai lantern festivals

Last year when the Thai ambassador to Korea, Somboon Sangiambut, joined the Lotus Lantern Festival procession for the first time, he carried a paper lantern that he had made himself.
He enjoyed the event so much that he came up with the idea of joining the Korean festival with Thailand’s own Lotus Festival.
Four months ahead of the Lotus Lantern Festival, Mr. Sangiambut invited the five Thai traditional musicians, 10 dancers and four artists who have worked on the special 4-meter-long Royal Chariot that will be the highlight of the Thailand Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul this weekend.
Most Thais, including Mr. Sangiambut, are followers of Theravada Buddhism, which is slightly different from the forms of Buddhism generally practiced in Korea. “Some methods of worship may be different, but all Buddhist teachings are the same,” Mr. Sangiambut says. About 200 Thais living in Korea are expected to join the Korean Buddhist festival and parade.
The official Korean Lotus Lantern Festival begins with the Thailand Lotus Lantern Festival today at Woojeong Citizens Plaza next to Jogyesa Temple near Insa-dong, starting at 11 a.m. and running until 7 p.m. for three days. Organized by the Royal Thai Embassy with the support of Jogyesa Temple, the event includes a broad spectrum of Thai traditional culture. Popular Thai dishes, such as pad thai, Thai red and green curry with hom mali rice and Thai soup, will be prepared vegetarian-style. They will be available, along with exotic fresh fruits imported from Thailand, for people to sample while watching performances by Thai dancers and musicians at 11:30 a.m. on Friday and noon on Saturday and Sunday. There will be demonstrations of Thai massage and sales of Thai handicrafts and products, including Thai silk, candles, incense, spices and souvenirs.
The Korean section of the Lotus Lantern Festival will officially begin on Sunday and run until Thursday. Up to 100 foreigners can sign up to make their own lotus lanterns in front of Jogyesa Temple on Sunday. The registration starts at 1 p.m. and participants can enter contests before joining the Lantern Parade. The exhibition of traditional lanterns will be on display until Thursday
For more information on the festival, visit the official Web site at www.LLF.or.kr or contact Hong Min-suk at (02) 725-6641.

by Ines Cho
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