Posted by: rbbadger | May 27, 2010

Buddha’s Birthday at Jogyesa

For those who haven’t seen the album on Facebook, I’m putting up here some of my photos from the recent Buddha’s Birthday celebrations at Jogyesa.  Jogyesa (曺溪寺) is an important Buddhist temple in Korea, not for historic reasons, but for administrative ones.  It is the headquarters of the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, the largest order of Buddhist monks and nuns in Korea.  This temple only goes back to the early 20th century and is by no means the most architecturally distinguished.  However, it is probably the easiest to get to, seeing as it is located very close to the line 3 subway and in a neighbourhood often frequented by tourists.

Anyhow, here we have the iljimun, the one-pillar gate adorned with many lanterns.

I had gone to the closing ceremonies for one main reason.  For all of my visits to Buddhist temples, I’ve never happened to be there when the monks play on the four instruments in the bellfry, namely the wooden drum, wooden fish, cloud-shaped gong, and the huge bell.  This is done twice a day, once in the very early morning hours and once in the evening.  The monk who plays the drum starts out with a slow tempo which gradually builds in speed in volume.  The monk who does the drumming at Jogyesa has acquired some degree of virtuosity at this and it was indeed impressive to witness.

The Daeungjeon, or Great Hero Hall, is the main Buddha hall.  In one of these photos, you’ll notice some of the monks who are visible due to their grey attire and shaved heads.  You’ll also notice some children with shaved heads dressed up as monks.  Jogyesa, like other temples, has programs where people can live the life of a monk for a short time.  Apparently, they offer it to children as well.

The monks and nuns always wear monastic dress.  Often, you do run into them on the subway or in other places.  When they’re not chanting or at other occasions which call for the full monastic dress, they just wear the grey pants and shirt based off of traditional Korean clothing.  They also might wear the overcoat with wide sleeves as well.  However, they wouldn’t wear the brown robe.  That is worn for chanting, formal monastic meals, and other occasions.  Korea is much colder than Southeast Asia and India are, so the monks wear considerably more clothing.

During the celebrations, every street in Korea, it seems, is decorated with lanterns.


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