Light up a lantern to lighten your load
As part of the festivities, brightly decorated lanterns will be hung at Buddhist temples and along the streets in cities and towns across the nation. Downtown, a large pagoda-shaped lantern is currently brightening Seoul Plaza in front of City Hall and nearby, the Cheonggye Stream is awash with color.
For believers, the illumination of the lanterns symbolizes the enlightenment of the Buddha. The light means wisdom and mercy that shakes to their senses those who are lost in a world of greed.
Over 100,000 lotus lanterns are lit during the festival every year along Jongno Street, which runs through the center of the capital, and more than 300,000 spectators are expected to take to the streets.
Bongeun Temple in southern Seoul kicked off the festival yesterday with an exhibition of traditional lanterns, which continues through May 5. The lanterns are elaborately made with hanji, or traditional Korean mulberry paper.
“Buddhists should light up lanterns of wisdom and mercy to brighten the world,” said Venerable Unsan, head monk of the Taego Order, the second-largest in Korea. “We need to live like the lotus plant, which doesn’t lose its purity even though it grows in the mud.”
The lotus lantern parade on Sunday, the highlight of the festival, will start after a Buddhist service at 4 p.m. at Dongguk University. The parade will pass through Jangchung Gymnasium and Dongdaemun Stadium and arrive at Jongno at 7 p.m. before it comes to an end at Jonggak intersection at 9:30 p.m.
Visitors can make their own lotus lanterns and eat temple food between noon and 7 p.m. on Sunday.
To participate in the lantern-making event, call (02) 722-2206 or e-mail email@example.com. For more information on the festival, visit www.llf.or.kr/eng.
To reach Jogye Temple, go to Jonggak Station, line No. 1, exit 3, or Anguk Station, line No. 3, exit 6. For Bongeun Temple, go to Samseong Station, line No. 2, exit 6.
By Limb Jae-un [firstname.lastname@example.org]