Saturday, May 16, 2015

Seoul Lotus Lantern Festival Parade - Marching with the Lanterns

Two years ago, I found myself marching in Seoul's Lotus Lantern Parade. This annual parade is kickoff for the annual celebration of Buddha's birthday and is a very popular event for locals and foreigners alike, regardless of religious affiliation. Everybody loves a parade!

During the nearly two-hour long parade, people of all ages marched, carrying lanterns of all shapes and varied sizes. Some were lit by candles, while others used a more modern (and safer) methods such as 9-volt batteries. 

This time I wanted to be a spectator and actually "see" more of the parade; a very different viewpoint and experience. Along with some friends, we staked out a coffee shop with an open second-story window; perfect for seeing the events below without any of the jostling, along with the benefits of drinks service, a soft chair, and access to the restroom. 

Most of the lanterns would have been made out of hanji paper (thin, but strong traditional Korean paper made from mulberry fibers). Some, such as the lotus lanterns above, would have dyed tissue paper covering the main hanji shell. The sheer artistry of the lanterns in such varied shapes and colors is quite amazing.

Stay tuned for more photos of the Lantern Festival!

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