Buddha’s birthday

Sooin Mun

Having a break from a tight schedule can be really good, especially if you were planning to go on a trip while staying in Korea. Considering how it is quite close to the final exams but not that close that you’d feel pressured to study while the vacation, it will be a very stress-free vacation if you are planning to go for one. However, if you are not planning to go for a trip, and having no plan is your plan, but you still want to try some new things during this one day that you’d never have in your home country, then I’d say go to some popular temples, and try some new things.

KakaoTalk_Photo_2018-05-24-10-53-51_86.jpegTo begin with, as most of the people who live in Asian countries are quite familiar with Buddhism, and those who only heard of the religion Buddhism, will not know much about it, I have to say that I will base my post on the case of none of the readers are familiar, but knows one thing or two about the Buddha’s birthday.

This year’s Buddha’s birthday is May 22nd, and interestingly the date changes every year. The day tend to be in between April 28th to May 28th, which happens because the book that specifies when the Buddha came to birth, in spiritual-realization-way in addition to actual birth, uses different calendar, the lunar calendar. Just in case you don’t understand, the lunar calendar has different dating system than what we use, the solar calendar which is almost same every year. Therefore, the date is different when we translate lunar dates into solar dates.

KakaoTalk_Photo_2018-05-24-10-53-56_38In Korea, in order to celebrate the day, we’ve made it the official holiday. During the holiday, some temples in Korea makes some special events to greet people and celebrate with them. When we think about temples, it is easily thought to be something that is located distant in the woods, or at least somewhere in the mountain. Hence, people tend to be reluctant to go as it may require them to climb up a mountain, or travel far away from their home and require too much time. However, that is not true for some major temples in Korea.

One of the most popular temple, Bong Un Sa (bong un temple), is located in the middle of the Gangnam, and can be visited directly through the subway station, which is under the same name, Bong un station.

KakaoTalk_Photo_2018-05-24-10-53-58_78Another most popular temple, Cho Gae Sa (cho gae temple) is located nearby Kyung Bok Ggung station. Positioned opposite of the Bong un sa in Gangnam, it is very convenient for people who lives in Seoul as they can just visit the one close to them.

Traditionally, what the temples do in the Buddha’s birth day is very short and can be enjoyed within the 4 hour radius. The main event, is about washing the Buddha’s statue, which is to show respect and has some other spiritual meanings. And then, they will give out free food, which you must empty the dish, so it is very important to only get the right amount. The food will be San Chae bibimbap, which you guys will be very familiar. It is a normal Bibimbap, only with vegetarian ingredients. The food has a lot of meanings including saying thanks for the respect, which since the ancient times it was normal to donate some money or rice under the name of showing respect. Also the food shows how generous Buddha is, because the food is given to everyone regardless of what you believe in, if you visit the temple on the day.

Then, temples have variations, but most cases, they will light some lanterns on and let them fly, by making them like a balloon filled with gas. By making them and flying them away, it is told that your wishes and hopes will come true. Simply put, it is like blowing off candles on the cake on your birthday.

After that, depending on the temple, they will do some more. However, I suggest to have a look around. Especially in Bong un temple, their view over the city is beautiful as the temple is located in the middle of the city. Plus, after that you can enjoy Korean Coex Center, which is basically a complex of restaurants and movie theaters and tons of more interesting shops. The best part is that the subway station is very close to the temple and connected to the Coex center, making it extremely convenient to go home.

In the end of the day, you will start to feel like you should’ve played more and probably will be stressed over the fact that you have to go to school tomorrow. However, you can at least convince yourself that you’ve experienced something you’d never have back in your own country. I hope all the students for the very best, and may all the hard works come back with good results.

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