Sunday, May 20, 2007

Lotus lantern festival

So… as you may know, on Thurday, in Korea, we will not work ! (nothing compared to the Japanese golden week or the French ponts!). We shall thank Buddha because Thursday is his birthday ^^
So, today, to prepare Buddha’s birthday (???) there was the Lotus Lantern Festival. Was hard to motivate my friends to go there as they are either catholics or they have drunk too much on Sat night…
Anyway, I went there on my own. No regrets, it was quite fun.
When I arrived in Dongdaemun stadium, I did not understand anything. Anyway, I knew there was a parade, next, to Jogyesa temple, so, when people were asking me something sa??, I would answer yes, Jogyesa e kagoshippoyo, and they would guide me inside. Once I was inside, I understood why they kept on asking to which temple I was going… Each section of the stadium was divided according to a temple. So, I went to the bigger one, instead of going to my district temple. I tried hard to find the section where there would be loads of cuties (taken, but having a look is not a sin!), but soon understood that this was a ajumma meeting… so… made friends with ajummas. You know, abroad, I can be that cute, nice, friendly thing, making friends with virtually anyone. So, chatted with ajummas with my poor Korean, who treated me some kimpap and dduk.
Then it started. Well, I thought it was a religious ceremony in a stadium, so, expected something very solemn, serious and slightly boring you know… Actually, was so much fun. Each temple had a defile. Each temple were represented by roughly 20 dancers, dressed all differently according to temples. So, they came parading as if it were the Olympic Games, then, I guess there were some kind of dancing contests, where two or three temples would meet in the middle of the stadium. The very strange thing was that they danced… on Korean pop and rock! That was so unexpected and unbelievable! Dances were really beautiful, as well as the outfits. Then, for the last thirty minutes, there was a choir singing more serious songs, and monks singing/praying as well. As everything was in Korean, I am sorry, my report is quite biased… I just enjoyed hic et nunc…
After the whole thing in the stadium, we moved to Jogyesa. I was right to choose the Jogyesa temple section, because I guess we were the longest to parade! The others would stop somewhere on the walk, watching and cheering us up… There again, an ajumma took care of me, giving me one of these lanterns, and chatting as much as she could, and as I could understand. Many cameras and photographers, so maybe, who knows, I am on TV, with comments such as… “what is this foreigner doing there?”. Because there were no foreigners in my section. Well, I did it hanguk style. As I did not hear nasty things over my head, grammatical structure like “ang” (not); “jima” (do not), “obso” (not), well, following the principle that if you do not say no, then I will try, I sneaked into the Jogyesa parade… Souris on a insider mood…
Then, we arrived at Jogyesa. I had to give my lantern to the Pagoda there, I prayed there for good, for my aunt’s health, for my family’s safety.
In Jogyesa, there were again music, dances… There was a photographer who asked me to strike a pose with some dancers, I accepted, and got a pic of me back (that’s why you got the pic of me with ladies in red at Jogyesa).
Nearby the pine tree in Jogyesa, I bumped into some friends, Leila (Lebanon) and Mirca (Serbia), so we ended up enjoying some Korean barbecue in Jongno 3 ga!

The more I live in Korea/in Asia, the more I feel seduced by Buddhism. If God gave the choice, maybe I would change religion from Catholicism to Buddhism. Buddhism gives me the peace I am looking for in religion. I do not know why, but I feel much more comfortable praying in a Buddhist temple rather than in a church. Church are not warm enough, too stern. Why do I feel at home in a temple? But, as I believe, there is just one God, disguised in different names (be it Jesus, Allah, Buddha, Messie…), so this should not be a problem. I guess I have suffered too much during my childhood in a supposedly catholic environment and Buddhism is kind of new, unstained by bad human deeds in my eyes. Have you noticed how priests in catholic religion may look so stern and dark? Why do Buddhist monks seem so friendly, lively, and happy? Anyway, I was glad to be part of the Lotus Lantern Festival today, gave me some energy, and an optimistic vision of religion…

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