Friday, May 2, 2014

Other Lantern Festival Creations

The prelude days of the lantern festival for Buddha's birthday and for several days after paper lantern images and lanterns of more durable material are aesthetically placed around the Chogyesa temple where the lantern festival culminates. Other lantern imagery are in the Cheongyecheon Stream, the recently uncovered stream of cool flowing water that now, in an act of urban renewal, adds a touch of peace and relaxation to the Seoul megapolis as it flows through it. Eight kilometers of the river were originally uncovered and made into a culture park. The work continues in an on-going highly successful urban beautification process. Since this stream is located within easy walking distance and is a site for lovers, office workers, classmates, bookworms and more to wander and congregate, and because it is also a site for art displays, every year now in the center of the stream are more lantern festival displays. 

In front of the Chogyesa Temple:

The displays in front of the Chogyesa Temple make sense here considering that the representative flower for Buddhism is the water lily, the flower that grows out of the mud and emerges in perfection, just as a human emerges from the mud of humanity and yet can reach the perfection of enlightenment.

Shops marketing Buddhist relics:

Just outside of the main gate of the Chogyesa are a series of shops marketing prayer beads, monk robes, musical instruments used in meditation, and paper water lily lanterns. As it is a Buddhist festival season, many paper lanterns are hung to advertise the event and market their wares.

In the flowing Cheongyecheon:

In the Cheongyecheon stream are an on-going display of figures of more durable material than the paper lanterns that would be quickly damaged by splashing water. Many underlying themes appear in the festival but some of the most common are themes of Buddhism, on historical figures, referencing filial piety, fairy tales and themes of myths and legends.

Other areas where some of the large paper lanterns used during the festival are near the famous Kyungbokkung, another site within quick walking distance of the Chogyesa. Seoul's streets often feature artwork or displays honoring some event or festival and the while the Cheongyecheon stream and near Kyunbokkung palace host the most frequent street entertainment displays, around Buddhist holidays the Chogyesa temple is right in the middle of the entertainment foray. 

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