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현재 시간 2017-11-19, (일) 11:04 pm

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The Buddha’s Birthday Celebration

photo1: Colorful paper laterns at Jogyesa Temple for celebrating the Buddha's birthday.
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Korean Buddhists celebrate Buddha’s Birthday which comes on 8th April every year according to lunar calendar. This year Buddha’s birthday comes on 14th May according solar calender which is equivalent to 8th April by lunar calendar. The birthday of the Prince Siddhartha Gautama, is a holiday traditionally celebrated in Mahayana Buddhism. According to the Theravada Tripitaka scriptures Gautama was born in Lumbini in modern-day Nepal, around the year 563 BCE, and raised in Kapilavastu. According to this legend, briefly after the birth of young prince Gautama, an astrologer named Asita visited the young prince's father(King Śuddhodana)and prophesied that Siddhartha would either become a great king or renounce the material world to become a holy man, depending on whether he saw what life was like outside the palace walls.

The Prince Siddhartha Gautama finally renounced the worldly life and entered into wondering life as an ascetic. He practiced and asked for the truth for six years in the mountain. He found enlightenment and became Buddha which means ‘Awakened one’ and a holy man. The Buddha taught his philosophy and the truth in India only however his teachings went around the globe. On the occasion of the Buddha’s birthday celebration, as for the date of the Buddha’s birthday, there are difference between Mahayana Buddhism and Theravada.

The exact date of Buddha's Birthday is based on the Asian lunisolar calendars and is primarily celebrated in Baisakh month of the Buddhist calendar and the Bikram Sambat Hindu calendar, and hence it is also called Vesak. In Nepal, which is considered the birth-country of Buddha, it is celebrated on the full moon day of the Vaisakha month of the Buddhist calendar. In Theravada countries following the Buddhist calendar, it falls on a full moon Uposatha day, typically in the 5th or 6th lunar month. In China and Korea, it is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth month in the Chinese lunar calendar. The date varies from year to year in the Western Gregorian calendar, but usually falls in April or May. In leap years it may be celebrated in June.

photo2:Lotus Lantern Festival (연등회, Yeon Deung Hoe) in Seoul.
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We may understand the different dates of the Buddha’s birthday according to nation’s’ seasonal custom and culture of national day slightly. In Korea the date and meaning of the Buddha’s birthday are different from Theravadin Buddhist countries. Korean buddhists celebrate the Buddha’s birthday only not Vesākha including enlightenment(nirvāna), and death(Parinirvāna) of Gautama Buddha unlike India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Tibet, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar. Korean Buddhists follow Chinese Buddhist tradition.

Korean Buddhist Sangha association agreed to celebrate Lotus Lantern Festival Parade of the Buddha’s birthday a week before the 8th April of lunar month. Every temple has dharma ceremony of the Buddha’s birthday on the 8th April according to lunar calendar and hangs paper Lotus Lanterns by strings in the temple yard and inside the shrine hall with a name tag to make a wish and merit for family. Korean Buddhists donate some money for the paper lotus lantern. This tradition has handed down more than one thousand five hundred years in the Korean peninsular. That is why Lotus Lantern Festival became as a national holiday and the Korean Government designated Lotus Lantern Festival as an intangible cultural asset which should be celebrated each year.

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Writer: Dharma Master Bogeom(Dr. Lee Chi-Ran)


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