Monday, May 28, 2012

Buddha's Birthday at Silleuksa, Yeoju

 Outside the entrance to Silleuksa

This year for Buddha's Birthday, we found ourselves at Silleuksa (신륵사) temple again. This is our second time to visit this famous temple in Yeoju and it turned out to be a great place to celebrate the holiday. There were tons of people and tons of activities to be do and sights to be seen. 

 Pouring water over Buddha's head

First thing first we headed into the temple to look around. it was quite different than our last visit, 3 months ago. Last time we were here, there were no leaves on the trees, not many people to be found and not nearly as many lanterns to be had. This time it was the opposite. Beautiful scenery, packed with people and of course full of lanterns.

Hanging messages on the lanterns

Silleuksa is a rather special temple because, not only is it ancient dating back to the Silla dynasty, but it is also one of the few temples in Korea that was built along a river rather than in a mountain. It's fame brings a lot of visitors to this particular temple, hence the number of events happening this Buddha's Birthday.

Loads of people were enjoying the riverfront views from the temple. Folks on the other side of the river seemed to be enjoying the water itself. The river was filled with swan boats and one speed boat zooming around giving the swan boats some exciting waves.

A view of the Namhangang (South Han River) alongside Silleuksa

 Temple volunteers preparing our bibimbap lunch 

And, of course, perhaps the best part of Buddha's Birthday is the free temple food. Guaranteed to be 100% vegetarian. We were served bibimbap with big pieces of ddeok (rice cake).

Bibim-ing our bap

Hanja woodblock prints

Making a Dalma woodblock print 

After we had our fill of food and temples, we headed out to do some of the activities outside the temple grounds. There were plenty of activities and crafts to try, but I just tried two, a block print of Dalma (also known as Bodhidharma , the monk who brought Buddhism to China) and, of course, a lotus lantern.
 Me and Dalma

 Lotus lantern pro... 

Lanterns are the most typical craft around Buddha's Birthday and it wasn't just for kids either. Young and old all gathered around the lantern making table to make their own lotus lantern. 

Me and my lotus lantern

How did you spend your Buddha's Birthday? Be sure to spend your next Buddha's Birthday at your nearest temple to make the most of this holiday!

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