Buddha's birthday is celebrated across many East Asian countries and Buddhists in Jeju will soon be marking the happy and colorful occasion with traditional events and festivities.
Many families will be celebrating the birthday of Prince Siddharta Gautama traditionally with a visit to their local temple during the public holiday on May 14.
But there are other ways people can mark the event - and to find out how The Jeju Weekly decamped to Odeung Seonwon temple in Jeju City to meet its founder Monk Jaeyong.
Monk Jaeyong is founder of Odeung Sanwon temple Photo by Matt Collison
Jaeyong tells us the temple, the name of which means 'we train our heart', was established eight years ago. Since then some 250 households have registered with it.
Many people will fill the temple for meditation and to take part in ceremonies on Buddha's birthday, one of six key dates on the Buddhist calendar.
The building is built to accommodate a large number of registered households, but with the hustle and bustle expected on May 14 one could be forgiven for feeling an urge for the outdoors.
Jaeyong tells us she has the solution in the form of two Buddhist trails which she frequents, she says, to clean the heart with nature and to gain a sense of peace.
Jeju Stone Park’s peaceful surroundings are ideal for walks and meditation Photo courtesy Jeju Stone Park
A walk through the mid-mountain region of Jeju Stone Park where rocks, trees and water combine to create peaceful surroundings is one such place, she tells us.
The idyllic park, high on the slopes of Mt.Hallasan in Jeju's Jungsangan region, is ideal for taking a break from busy lives and finding tranquility, says Jaeyong.
Monk Jaeyeong says she is inspired by Bangseonmun Valley’s natural beauty Photo courtesy Jeju Tourism Organization
Another walk favored by the monk is around Bangseonmun Valley and woodland path. This beauty spot rising between New Jeju an Old Jeju City is popular with walkers and visitors who flock to see more than fifty Joseon-era engravings etched into the towering cliff sides
But it is not hard to find serenity among the red royal azaleas covering the rocks and breathtaking views at the end of the Bangseonmun Valley walking course, otherwise known as the Ora Olle. The course can be joined at the Hancheon (river) to the south of the Jeju City bus terminal, or behind Halla Library, in Ora-2-dong.
Jaeyong says each time she visits she finds a different place to walk, letting her heart set the route depending on her mood. When she finds a serene spot it is not uncommon for her to spend hours at a time in the stillness of meditation, she says.
Odeung Seonwon temple in Jeju City Photo by Matt Collison
Back at the temple, families and followers are able to take part in a series of relaxing temple stays organized regularly at the site.
A minimum of 15 people must sign up before a stay can be scheduled and three different programmes are available.
Tea drinking is at the centre of many Buddhist ceremonies so it is not surprising that one of the stays focuses on this traditional activity along with meditation.
The second programme is based around food with guests able to sample three customary dishes – bracken, bellflower root and water dropwort. The last is a basic temple stay in which visitors can study the teachings of Buddha together. This two-day stay includes sleeping at the temple overnight.
Regardless of the ways one celebrates Buddha’s birthday, Jaeyong tells us it is important that people take part with “abundant heart”.
This is the message at the centre of this year’s celebrations, says the monk as she pours more tea into our cups. This year, Jaeyong hopes for all Jeju people to have abundant hearts and spread happiness by embracing that theme.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
All materials on this site are protected under the Korean Copyright Law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published without the prior consent of Jeju Weekly.
Mail to firstname.lastname@example.org | Phone: +82-64-724-7776 Fax: +82-64-724-7796
#505 jeju Venture Maru Bldg,217 Jungangro(Ido-2 dong), Jeju-si, Korea, 690-827
Registration Number: Jeju Da 01093 | Date of Registration: November 20, 2008 | Publisher: Hee Tak Ko | Youth policy: Hee Tak Ko
Copyright ⓒ 2009 All materials on this site are protected under the Korean Copyright Law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published
without the prior consent of jeju weekly.com.