korean traditions

Buddha’s Birthday at 반야사

 

The nearest Buddhist temple to our place is just across the road. In fact I pass it every time I go to work. It’s small and hidden up a small hill behind ample tree cover. In fact you’d miss it completely if it were for the multicoloured lanterns which line the street from early April, lanterns which are of course in anticipation of today, Buddha’s Birthday.


Spin Kicks, Spirituality, and a Sunrise: Templestay at Golgusa Temple



It's never a bad idea to start out a new year with a few extra good karma points... you never know when you'll need them.  So, instead of spending New Year's Eve drinking too much in a crowded, overpriced bar in Seoul, I decided to ring it in at Golgulsa, a Buddhist temple located just outside Gyeongju, South Korea.
Templestays have been gaining popularity amongst tourists and usually involve a short-term stay in one of the 900 traditional Buddhist temples in Korea.  Participants follow a rather strict schedule to experience a day (or two or three) in the life of the monks that reside there.  A templestay was something that had been on my bucket list for a while, so when I found a special New Year's program on the official Templestay website, I knew I had to sign up.
It was about a five hour trek from Seoul to Golgulsa Temple that required two bus trips, a bit of waiting around, and a short walk to the temple grounds from the final bus stop.  Once I had arrived, I was given a brief introduction to the program, a map of the complex, and special clothes that I was to wear during my stay.  I was then directed to my room where I would be spending the night with about fifteen other women.  The room was a rather large common area with pillows and blankets spread out on the floor for sleeping.  There was a bathroom with a toilet, a few open showers, and sinks that were to be shared.  I've become use to this arrangement after living in Korea for a few years but wondered how other Westerners not used to copious amounts of nakedness would handle the situation.

Chuseok Traditions, Hagwon Style

Recently, I wrote a post about all of the wonderful reasons to love autumn in Korea.  Not listed in the post but very much included in my reasons for loving the season is that of ChuseokChuseok is a Korean holiday that celebrates the autumn harvest and is held around the autumn equinox based on the lunar calendar.  It is usually three days long and is one of the few times of the year that Koreans take time off of work and visit their hometowns to share an autumn feast with their families in celebration of the harvest.  Chuseok is also a time to remember ancestors through various ceremonies. 

Wrapping Up Ancestor Worship

Wrapping Up Ancestor Worship

A son sends his deceased father a message through the medium of fire at the conclusion of a sumptuous ancestor ceremony called Jaesa (제사). Just a few minutes later we devoured every last scrap of food on the table, and then some.

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