Sunday, July 1, 2012

Buddha's Birthday Lotus Lantern Parade

I am quite late in showing you these (and now it seems insignificant with these blasted open classes that are strutting about with their all-importance at school), but I went to the Lotus Lantern Parade in Jongno for Buddha's Birthday.  It was an interesting cultural experience, something I've never seen before, and that's why I feel it must be shared.

I've been to a Korean parade before, I've seen the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade on TV, and I've been in many "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" floats in my younger years, but I've never seen anything like this.

This parade celebrated Buddhism, from what I understood.  Much like how all of Italy is "Catholic" and all of the South is "Christian," all of Korea is "Buddhist."  Many of the people in the parade were there because their school, club, or organization participates every year.  Everyone in the parade held a lantern.  Some people were a part of a traditional dance group or a traditional band, but there were droves and droves of people just walking with lanterns.  The entire parade was rather redundant save for the impressive large lanterns that started to show about 3/4 of the way through. My favorite part was the Chinese dragon.

Incoming tradition

I believe these guys were from a boys' high school and were most likely required to be there.  Most of the people in these kinds of groups were goofing off and having fun.

The cutest lotus flower I've ever seen

Seeing eye dogs got in on the action. 

Angry Birds are kind of a big deal here.

And now to get heavy.

Near the end, I was sitting by myself next to some exuberant ajummas and ajossis watching the Buddhists go by.  I'm only vaguely familiar with the religion, but I know that it doesn't deliver much more than good feelings.  As a devout follower of Jesus, I ended up filtering the entire show through the lens of what's right and what's wrong.  The last 20 minutes, I just felt sad.  These people looked happy, and they've found some shades of happiness, but I know that there is so much more out there to be had.  To me, it was a parade of people who were lost.

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