Monday, May 24, 2010

Lotus Lantern Festival

Last weekend Andrew and I headed up to Seoul for the Lotus Lantern Festival. This was the kickoff of a week-long celebration for Buddha's birthday. It was an incredible day with a lot of culture and bright colors.

Andrew waits for the train.

We first stopped and listened/watched a stage performance of traditional Korean dancing and music. A group of Buddhist Monks have front row for the show.

This is the main stage they had set up for the closing celebration.

This is one of those times where you smile and just say, "Yeah, that's Korea." Koreans love covering themselves up. They think the whiter the prettier. People have umbrellas to shield them from the sun. They wear long sleeves in the summer. And if you don't have an umbrella or visor to shield your face from the sun? No problem! Just put a bag on your head! 

There was a booth where you could try to paint like a disabled person. 

This Monk was SO flexible! He was probably in his 70's. He is doing the splits here and has his chin resting on the ground. 

Amazing flexibility. 

That is his head poking between his legs!

I'm not sure what their story is. They were walking the street so we grabbed a picture with them. They are wearing traditional headpieces.

Pottery lessons!

Next we saw an amazing tightrope walker. She wasn't really just a walker... she did jumps and spins mid-air, always landing back on the rope. 

This is traditional Korean attire, called Hanbok. 

Cambodian Buddhism

Paper lotus flowers. 

All of a sudden there was a mini parade. It only lasted minutes. 

Somebody needs an eyebrow trimmer. 

Kids walking in Hanbok. 

We then approached the Temple. Which I thought was the highlight of the day. There were tens of thousands of colored lanterns filling the temple. 

The entrance of the temple.

Gorgeous lanterns fill the ceiling area, while sunlight shines through.

Each lantern has a prayer written on it. 

The blue and red ying-yang-esque symbol is the Taegukki which is found at the center of the South Korean flag. 

We met up with Dallas at the festival.

After several minutes of audible coaching from her father, the little girl asked us if she could have a picture with us. We obliged and the family joined in. I am kneeling and am almost as tall as the mother. :)

When I posed for this picture, several people with large paparazzi-esque cameras came up and started snapping my picture. 

Then several more joined the paparazzi group when we took these. Maybe we will be in next year's advertising? We didn't know what to do because they kept standing there... so we awkwardly made faces and eventually walked away. 

I hope this one makes it in their publicity photos.

There is a choir singing to the right at the base of the temple. 

Happy Birthday, Buddha. 

The food didn't look appealing. We passed. 

Don't worry! The English menu have been prepared! 

A random Korean restaurant in Insedong. 

I then got to get up on a pedestal and pose like Buddha!  

They gave me a sticker to put on my face for the photo. I forgot to take it off the rest of the day. 

A community art project. 

This was some sort of story telling... or dancing... with dragons... We aren't sure. 

Gorgeous massive lanterns! 

This one was rotating in circles. 

This one was the largest.

(for scale)

We then found a spot and waited for the parade to start (for two hours). This little girl was in front of us and I thought she was so adorable. The mom would blow air from the balloon in her face and she would giggle so hard. 

This old lady caused such a ruckus trying to fight for a seat. She yelled and pushed and caused fights. She brought a Styrofoam box with her. She set it down and it collapsed and she fell to the ground. Everyone around us started laughing... loudly. She totally deserved it because she was suck a jerk. We couldn't help but laugh ourselves. That's Karma!

The parade begins!

In come thousands of monks with lanterns. 

There were Monks there from all around the world. The different countries wore different colored outfits. I'm not sure where these are from. 

The pictures obviously don't do it justice. The lanterns were lit up and glowing brightly. 

All of these lanterns were glowing.

I believe the bright orange Monks are from Thailand. 

Thousands upon thousands of Monks and civilians walked in the parade with glowing lanterns of different shapes and sizes. It was really a sight to see, that was unable to be captured properly on camera. I highly recommend this festival to anyone who is traveling to Korea! 

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