Lotus Lantern Parade

May is  a very special Birthday month!  Not only because it is MY birthday, but Buddha turns another year older on May 17th.   To celebrate Buddha’s life South Korea has a variety of events during May.  On Saturday May 11th Thaddeus and I attended one of the most wild parades and parties we’ve ever been to!
            
The Lotus Lantern Festival in Seoul is a three-day event!  Spotlighting this event (no pun intended) is the 2.5 hour long Lotus Lantern Parade!  It runs all the way from Dongdaaemun History and Culture Park through Jongno Street and then ending at Joygesa Temple.   (These are all places I spoke about in my previous blog posts.)
 The parade consists of over 100,000 Buddhists dressed in hanbok (traditional clothing) carrying lanterns in a variety or shapes and sizes.  It’s a sight like no other!  (Which is why the majority of this blog will consist of pictures.)
Beyond the lanterns are dozens of light up floats including robotic fire breathing dragons and various other animals, HUGE speakers playing music and much more!  Some of the floats are so large that power lines have to be raised for them to pass under! My favorite was a 30 man dragon that zig- zagged through the road.
Following the Lotus Lantern Festival is Hoehyang Hanmadang which translates to post-parade celebration.  Foreigners commonly refer to this as “The Flower Party.”  In the middle of the road near Joygesa Temple the parade concludes.  Floats line the street to be observed up close.
 A huge stage is set up with live parade commentary throughout the parade.  The stage is filled with beautiful hanging lanterns.  Once the parade concludes everyone gathers here and dances along as musicians sing both traditional music and k-pop alike.  There are several larger dance performances.  My favorite being women who held giant lotus peddles and reenacted a lotus blossoming through dance.  Once this concludes, strangers grab one another’s hands and dance together in circles or form huge congo lines.  While this is going on, pyrotechnics go off from the stage and confetti, that symbolizes the lotus flower pedals, falls from the sky.   The event is truly one of a kind! 

Couldn’t resist posting this cute guy enjoying some pre-parade bbq

This is the Buddhist swastika symbol, which is ubiquitous throughout Korea and not to be confused with the German Hackenkreuz. Interestingly it is not called a swastika in Germany.

See the man on the float holding a large wooden stick to raise the power line for this huge Rooster!

This huge dragon breathed real smoke and spit fire!

The elephants feet and trunk moved to make it look as though it was walking

This dragon was completely made up of people running back and forth amongst the street. See their legs in there!
Post Parade “Flower Party” Dance presentations 
The main stage 

Flying Lotus Petals!

ELSEwHERE

A visual artist by profession and a sightseer at heart, I spent a year as a commercial photographer before letting my urge to Travel ELSEwHERE take over. After receiving a job offer that lead me to a sleepy town high in the Tuscan mountains, my travel adventure began. Since that time my travels have lead me to visit over 60 countries, marry a fellow globetrotter, move intercontinentally seven times and to create temporary homes in four continents! Through my travels, I’ve held many suitcases packed for adventures as a journalist, blogger, philanthropist, teacher, army-wife, magazine director, photographer, barmaid, but mainly just an adventurer. With each new experience, elsewhere, I endeavor to live sensibly while exploring a new culture, living sustainably, and giving back whenever possible. I aspire to make this travel blog help those starting a new life elsewhere or just passing through…