Ok, so even though it’s over 6 months away, I’ve got to say something about my favorite Korean holiday: Buddha’s Birthday (Seoktanil). On the night of Buddha’s Birthday, most major temples hold a lantern parade. I’ve had the pleasure of catching it at several Buddhist temples over the years and I have to say it’s one of the coolest things I’ve experienced here in Korea.
To be honest, Bulguksa is not really my favorite temple in Korea, even though it might be the most famous. The tranquil vibe I like about temples is ruined here by the throngs of day-tripping school groups and bus tours. That said, I’ve been out to Bulguksa twice now for the lantern parade on Buddha’s Birthday and it’s a completely different place. The atmosphere is just magic.
The photos I’ve got up are from this last May, when the lantern parade got rained out. It didn’t deter a handful of hard core devotees and still made for some great photos. The previous year I shot some amazing video clips with my Pansonic Lumix. Here’s a short video of the clips edited together:
Buddha’s Birthday goes by the lunar calendar, so for next year (2010) it’ll be on May 21st. Not all Buddhist temples host the lantern parade. If you want to know if there’s going to be a lantern parade at a temple near you, phone up the helpful folks at your local English tourist info office: (local area code) 1330. The lantern parade usually starts after a short Dharma talk, not too long after sundown.