Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism

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Korean Buddhism Culture Intangible Cultural Heritage Related to Korean Buddhism
Intangible Cultural Heritage Related to Korean Buddhism

Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism


Yeondeunghoe, Lantern Lighting Festival in the Republic of Korea


Yeondeunghoe is a festival to mark Buddha’s Birthday which falls on the eighth day of the fourth lunar month in Korea. It is celebrated by lighting lanterns of diverse shapes, sizes, and colors. Yeondeunghoe also includes annual parades held all across Korea. It not only provides a chance for members of Korean society to come in contact with diverse aspects of Buddhist culture, but is also a cultural heritage that embodies creativity and the cultural diversity of humanity. In recognition of these facts, Yeondeunghoe was registered on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2020. Based on historical texts which record similar festivals—“Gandeung” in the Silla era, “Yeondeunghoe” in the Goryeo era, “Hogi Nori” and “Gwandeung Nori” in the Joseon era,—today’s Yeondeunghoe Festival tries to follow tradition, but has adapted to modern culture, making the festival a living culture.
The Yeondeunghoe Festival begins with a ceremony to “bathe the baby buddha” to honor the birth of the Buddha. This is followed by a lantern parade and finale. Participants come with diverse and colorful lanterns, usually handcrafted themselves, and walk with other participants in the parade. To light a lantern symbolizes shining the light of wisdom on individuals, communities, and all of society. As can be seen, Yeondeunghoe is a cultural event which has been passed on since Buddhism was first introduced to Korea. It is also a living heritage which performs the important function of allowing us to share joy together by temporarily dismantling the social barriers of nationality, race, religion, gender, and mental and physical disabilities.

Yeongsanjae

Yeongsanjae is a Buddhist ritual to bring peace to the spirits of the deceased and guide them to the realm of truth. It is a comprehensive art form consisting of musical elements like beompae (musical verses) and hwacheong (ritual chants), as well as dance and theatrical elements such as the bara (cymbals) dance and the butterfly dance. Yeongsanjae was registered on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2009. The Yeongsanjae Preservation Association was established in 1987 to pass it on to future generations, and the Taego Order’s Bongwonsa Temple is the center of its propagation.
Based on the Lotus Sutra, Yeongsanjae has a symbolic meaning as a reenactment of the dharma assembly the Buddha presided over on Vulture Peak. Originally, the Yeongsanjae ritual lasted three days and three nights, but has recently been downsized to a single day. Yeongsanjae is largely comprised of 4 parts. The “introduction” consists of 6 steps in which the sages and the spirits of the deceased are invited and welcomed. The “development” and “climax” parts consist of 5 steps in which offerings are prepared and the ceremony is performed. The “conclusion (farewell)” sends off all who were invited. Yeongsanjae is more than just a performance. It is a Buddhist ritual participated in by many people and an audience, giving it greater value as a means of meditation and Buddhist practice.

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