According to Buddhist tradition, lighting a lotus lantern represents a devotion to performing good deeds and lighting up the dark parts of the world that are filled with agony.
Lanterns outside Jogye-sa Temple, Seoul
Every year hundreds of people take to the streets of Seoul dancing, singing, and carrying lanterns in celebration of Buddha’s birthday. This annual Lotus Lantern Festival took place on May 19th this year.
Lanterns at Jogye-sa Temple
The procession starts at Dongdaemun Gate in the north of Seoul and proceeds through the streets of Insadong before finishing at Jogye-sa Temple.
A coloured lantern is lit for a living person, and a white lantern is for someone who has passed away.
This weekend is a time of celebration for many Koreans as it is the weekend of Buddha’s Birthday.
The actual date varies across Asia but in Korea Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated on the 8th day of the 4th lunar month, which this year falls on Monday 28th May.
Almost a quarter of the Korean population are Buddhist so naturally it is a very important holiday, and many schools (yay!), universities and shops are closed for the day.
For the last month the streets have been decked out with colourful Lotus lanterns, and last weekend there was a huge parade of dancers, lanterns and floats through the streets of Seoul kick-starting a week of celebrations. Many temples will give free breakfast and lunch to visitors on Monday.