Lanterns for Buddha’s Birthday

The Buddha’s Birthday (May 10, this year) is far and away the most important celebration on the Korean Buddhist calender. The preparations start nearly a year ahead of time at our center, and by January preparations are in full gear.  By the time things are finished in April, the lanterns and floats will be gorgeous!  (Click on the images for a bit higher resolution image.)
        For everyone in the Seoul area, there’s been one important change this year:  the main lantern parade will begin at dusk Saturday, May 7th, and will go from Dongguk University to Jogye Temple.   Sunday, May 8th, will be the street fair in front of Jogye Temple, with a celebration/party in the evening.  The actual day is May 10, Tuesday, and so temples big and small across the country will be having their own celebrations.

wiring the lantern holders






elephant at the base of the Avalokitesvara lantern


"say 'Kimchi'"


D -20, worklist


The Tree of Life. Actually, I'm not sure what this symbolizes(!), but I think it is that all creation shares the same root and are as leaves on the same tree.


each of the leaves are hand made of paper on a wire frame, and then painted



inside the tree

9 thoughts on “Lanterns for Buddha’s Birthday”

  1. wow! there is a small lantern festival in Victoria where I used to live and even it was quite magical so this must be amazing, the scale, the detail, the sheer artistry of it all. And then lit up in the darkness, a sight to behold, I am sure. Thanks for the tour.

    1. I’m always blown away by the creativity, the quality, and the heart that goes into this work. The people that build these lanterns and floats are, on the whole, not selected because of any particular talent (it’s all volunteer work), but the finished lanterns come out so wonderful. I think it’s the vision that really brings things together. I’ll post more pictures as the day approaches, and some when the parades and street fair take place.

  2. …not April 10, it is May 10, if you ment by Lunar calendar, then it is still not April, as such name of months are not ment for lunar calendar, by Lunar it is 4 months, 8th day -otherwise it is confusing!

    1. It does rain from time to time, so they use some kind of a waterproof coating on these lanterns. I wouldn’t want to really test it out, but it’s enough to keep the lanterns from dissolving at the first hint of moisture. The traditional lotus petal lanterns will bleed and crumple up pretty quickly if they get wet.

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