Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism

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Korean Buddhism Culture Buddhist Cultural Promotion
Buddha's Birthday and Yeondeunghoe

Buddhist Cultural Promotion

Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism

The Buddha’s Birthday (the 8th day of the fourth lunar month) is the biggest holiday in Korean Buddhism. On this day each year, followers go to a temple, participate in a “bathing baby Buddha ceremony” and offer a lantern. In this way they pray for their own minds and the world to be illuminated with the light of wisdom.

The Yeondeunghoe Festival actually begins before Buddha’s Birthday. It is a Korean cultural tradition that has continued for 1,200 years. When Yeondeunghoe begins, citizens as well as Buddhists come together to hold a lantern parade to celebrate the birth of the Buddha. Vast numbers of foreigners and Korean citizens come to the festival to enjoy diverse cultural events, the glorious lantern parade, and a variety of traditional performances.

During the Yeondeunghoe festival, traditional lantern exhibitions exuding the subtle beauty of traditional lanterns are held at Cheonggyecheon Stream, Jogyesa Temple, and Bongeunsa Temple. The first day of the main event begins with “Eoullim Madang” (a Buddhist cheer rally) where participants put on joyful performances and attend a mass dharma ceremony. This is followed by a lantern parade where one can see a parade of 100,000 lanterns meandering through the heart of Seoul, and Hoehyang Hanmadang (post-parade celebration) in which participants hold hands and rejoice in a communal street party under a shower of paper flower petals. The second day of the main event consists of traditional cultural events where one can have diverse cultural experiences in traditional Korean games and crafts. There are also traditional cultural performances and madang nori (traditional Korean outdoor performances). The grand finale features a smaller scale lantern parade and yeondeung nori.

The Yenondeunghoe Conservations Committee preserves and passes on traditional lantern culture, which is at the heart of Yeondeunghoe. By holding traditional lantern exhibitions, providing training in making lanterns, and hosting lantern competitions, the Committee continually strives to transmit and develop Korea’s distinctive lantern culture.

As a traditional Korean cultural festival, Yeondeunghoe was registered as a Korean National Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2012. And in recognition of its universal values, Yeondeunghoe was registered on the Representative List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2020, establishing it as a world-class cultural legacy to be preserved and cherished.

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