By Samsun Lee, editorial writer
On May 31, 2019, Chief Abbot Park Seung-eok of the Cheonman-sa Buddhist Temple is inviting ambassadors and madams to his Temple in Ulsan on the southeast coast of Korea. It is in celebration of the Buddha’s Birthday widely observed throughout Korea, especially at the Buddhist temples across the country as well as in Seoul.
The tour takes places after the Buddha’s Birthday, of which, the celebrating mood continues into May?and beyond.
This year, the upcoming 12th of May this year is the Buddha’s Birthday, more widely known in Korea as Seokka Tansinil. The date, actually, is the 8th Day of April in the lunar calendar, but changes every year due to the differences in the two calendars which are used in Korea.
It is one of the most important legal holidays in Korea, perhaps the ‘biggest’ in the case of the Buddhists and their leaders who total more than 76 millopnm (according to Wikipedia) followed by Christtians estimated at 389,000.
On this day, at many Buddhist temples in Korea wash the image of the newly born Buddha in water in a ceremony followed by Buddhist a religious service.
On this day at many Buddhist temples across the country, the visitors, the Buddhist belivers or otherwise, are treated to a lunchen and/or supper named Gongyang. Gongyang means offering of food to the Buddha.
In the evening, there are Buddhist Lantern Processions.
At the Korean army personnel recruit centers across the country, it is day when the new recruits have their meals to “their hearts’ content.”
The official name of the Buddha? Birthday in Korea is Bucheonim Osin Nam which literally translators “The Day When the Buddha Came.” In Chinese characters which were used in the past are still continuously used in the sound of Seokga Tansin Il.
On the Buddha’s Birth, many Korean politicians visit the Buddhist temples across the country. The number of such visitors are the largest when the election day is near the Buddha’s Birthday.
According to Wikipedia, Buddha's birthday is a holiday traditionally celebrated in most of East Asia to commemorate the birth of the Prince Siddhartha Gautama, later the Gautama Buddha and founder of Buddhism. It is also celebrated in South and Southeast Asia as Vesak which also acknowledges the enlightenment and death of the Buddha. According to the Theravada Tripitaka scriptures, meaning "three baskets".
Gautama was born c. 563/480 BCE in Lumbini in modern-day Nepal, and raised in the Shakya capital of Kapilvastu, in the present day Tilaurakot, Nepal. At the age of thirty-five, he attained enlightenment (nirvana) underneath a Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya (modern day India). He delivered his first sermon at Sarnath, India. At the age of eighty, he died at Kushinagar, India.
The exact date of Buddha's birthday is based on the Asian lunisolar calendars. The date for the celebration of Buddha's birthday varies from year to year in the Western Gregorian calendar, but usually falls in April or May. In leap years it may be celebrated in June.
The exact date of Buddha's Birthday is based on the Asian lunisolar calendars and is primarily celebrated in Baisakh month of the Buddhist calendar and the Bikram Sambat Hindu calendar, and hence it is also called Vesak.
In modern-day India and Nepal, where the Historical Buddha lived, it is celebrated on the full moon day of the Vaisakha month of the Buddhist calendar.
In Theravada countries following the Buddhist calendar, it falls on a full moon Uposatha day, typically in the 5th or 6th lunar month.
In Korea and China, it is celebrated on the eighth day of the fourth month in the lunar calendar. The date varies from year to year in the Western Gregorian calendar, but usually falls in April or May. In leap years it may be celebrated in June. In Tibet, it falls on the 7th day of the fourth month of the Tibetan calendar (in May).
In South Asian and Southeast Asian countries as well as Mongolia, Buddha's birthday is celebrated on the full moon day of the Vaisakha month of the Buddhist calendar and the Hindu calendar, which usually falls in April or May month of the Western Gregorian calendar.
The festival is known as Buddha Purnima, as Purnima means full moon day in Sanskrit. It is also called is Buddha Jayanti, with Jayanti meaning birthday in Sanskrit Language.
Buddha's statue located near Belum Caves, Andhra Pradesh, India.
The corresponding Western Gregorian calendar dates varies from year to year:
In many East Asian countries Buddha's Birth is celebrated on the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese lunar calendar (in Japan since 1873 on April 8 of the Gregorian calendar), and the day is an official holiday in Hong Kong, Macau and South Korea. The date falls from the end of April to the end of May in the Gregorian calendar.
About Venerable Park:
Venerable Park holds a wide variety of leadership religious, cultural and philanthropic positions, which include: UN (NGO) peace ambassadorship, a member at Selection Committee for the Korea Nobel Peace Foundation, president of Korean Buddhist Myeongye-eui Jeondang, president of the National Federation of the Supporters of Working Students, an editorial writer of The Korea Post media, a Buddhist Priest at the Ulsan Police Station and also at the Ulsan Maritime Police Station.