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Buddha’s Birthday and Other Holidays

It’s kind of holiday “season” here in Yeosu. From May 5th through June 9th, there are four holidays, all of them on weekdays, so no work on those days. Unfortunately, we have to make up the classes that we miss because of those days off, a demand by the university that irks me to no end, as I’ve mentioned before. Some of the new teachers this semester said that it’s the first education institution that they’ve worked at in Korea that demands that holiday classes be made up. Our contracts state that we get all national and university holidays off, but that’s a bit of a half-truth if we have to do the classes at another time. It’s kind of like your boss telling you “No, you don’t have to work on Thanksgiving Day, but you have to come in on Sunday to make up for it.” Sheesh. Not much I can do about it though–grin and bear it.

May 5th was Children’s Day, today is the celebration of Buddha’s Birthday, and June 6th is Memorial Day. In addition, June 9th is the Founding Day of the university, so classes are also called off for that event. Buddha’s Birthday is celebrated on the 10th in many East Asian countries and it’s celebrated on the 17th in some others, to coincide with the full moon.

For the last two or three weeks, all of the temples here have been gaily decorated with colorful paper lanterns. If you didn’t know where the temples were located, you’d know their presence by the lanterns.

It’s been overcast and a bit rainy today, but between the sprinkles, I took a short walk down the road below the dormitories to a small temple, about 15 minutes away. I assumed there would be some events and ceremonies going on, and there were. Lots of people were present in the main temple–gentlemen dressed in suits and sporting flowers in their lapels, ladies wearing their finery and suited ushers showing people in. I would like to have shot some photos of the temple, but it would have been totally inappropriate for me to try to do so. Therefore, I contented myself with taking a few shots of the small grounds outside the temple.

There either was already or there was going to be a parade, and this dragon float looked ready to roll.

He had a friend to accompany him, in the form of this tiger.

Here’s a shot of the outside of the main temple, where the ceremony was being held. I could hear the chanting of the monks and the clanging of gongs, and I really wanted to go in. Not this time, though.

The paper lanterns are quite beautiful and I love the details on some of them. Here are four for your viewing pleasure.

I was also out and about on Children’s Day and got a number of photos of the Turtle Ship Festival that is always held at the same time. I’ll put some of those up in the next post. More later.

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