Every year it comes. On the eighth day of the fourth month of the Chinese lunar calendar, Korea celebrates Buddha’s Birthday. Among all of the holidays and festivals in South Korea, Buddha’s Birthday may be my favorite!
In Korean, they call it 석가탄신일 – seokga tansinil – or 부처님 오신 날 – bucheonim osin nal. In a literal sense, that means something like “the day when Buddha came.” A few weeks before the holiday itself, Buddhist temples all over the country begin preparing. They hang lanterns all over the temple and the grounds nearby. Sometimes the displays are modest, like at the small hermitages up in the remote mountains. Other times, the displays are large, lavish, and immensely colorful. There is one temple, however, which is simply breathtaking in it’s lantern display: 삼광사 – Samgwangsa.