Being from the country whose prevalent religion is Buddhism makes me very comfortable here in Korea….
On the full moon day of the Vaisakha month of the Buddhist calendar that corresponds to April or May in the Gregorian calendar, the entire country of South Korea will be illuminated with vibrantly colored lanterns in order to commemorate the birth of the Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of Buddhism.
Buddha’s Birthday is also a public holiday in Korea which it fell on May 12 this year (2019). Every Buddhist temple across the country hold various traditional performances and activities.
Thank you to one of my friend’s colleagues who happens to be a regular temple-goer for a kind invitation to the festival at Beomnyunsa temple this year, so we would be able to participate in this special celebration.
Beomnyunsa Temple (pronounced “Beom-Nyun-Sa”) is situated in the foothills of Munsusan Mountain in Cheoinju, Yongin City. It was built in the cultural Hanok style and is famous as a training center for nuns. We arrived at this auspicious site before noon and it was already packed with masses of people receiving free meals provided by the temple association. The treated entree was Sanchae-bibimbap which is a bowl of white rice topped with wild vegetables.
For those who had finished the meal were gathering in the area in front of the Main Buddha Hall underneath a canopy of thousands of colorful lanterns to hear sermons and chant prayers. Many participants also made a small donation to write their names and wishes on a piece of paper and hanged them to the available lanterns in the temple complex.
Another particular ritual that was seen was Buddha bathing which people would line up to pour scented/blessed water on small Buddha statues decorated with flowers. For my experience, I have relatively acquainted with this very activity as Thai people frequently practice the rite on almost every religious occasions.
When all the ceremonies of the celebration came to an end, we spent some time to explore the temple extensively. At a further distance from the Main Buddha Hall, a flight of stairs reaching up to Samseongak or the Three Sages Shrine was encountered. We enthusiastically climbed up to witness an amazing panoramic view of the entire temple complex encompassed with forested mountains.
Moreover, I have learned that Beomnyunsa Temple also provides temple stay programs like several major Buddhist temples in Korea do. Since I have not experienced in the program yet I could not be more thrilled to give it a try at this very place.
Access to Beomnyunsa Temple
Seoul Subway + Bus: Staduim-Songdam College Station (Everline) –> Exit 3 –> Forbes Hospital Bus Stop –> take a local number 16 –> get off at Beomnyunsa Temple Stop (20th stop) –> 3 min walk
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