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Ulsan – Buddha’s Birthday Celebrations at a Temple

Ulsan is home to a good number of Buddhist temples and I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at one myself on the Buddha’s birthday. The 15th of May is a national holiday in Korea because of this. Millions of Koreans practice Buddhism and the religion here has its own characteristics.

I have been to countless Buddhist temples from my travels and even one in Scotland. I had also seen a buddhist temple during my visit to Sokcho. However, this was the first time I saw celebrations like this at a temple.

Baekyangsa Temple in Ulsan

North of the Taehwagang river, I took the bus over to the temple. As soon as I arrived, I saw huge crowds and people queueing up for food and water. It was a scorchingly hot day and the surroundings of the temple were really good. This place has views of the whole city and is also located in quite a hilly area.

Buddhist temples usually feel serene, however today it felt a bit overwhelming with all the crowds. One thing I regret is that I did not bring cash and therefore couldn’t give any offerings. This is something which I saw people doing. At one end of the temple, I saw people giving offerings in exchange for candles.

Pouring Water on the Buddha

One of the things I saw that people were doing was that they were queueing up to pour water on a small statue of the Buddha. People would give offerings to the nuns and then use a ladle to pour water. In Buddhism, water represents purity and good fortune.

What I found interesting about the traditions here is that I saw the nuns here wearing traditional Korean hanboks. I didn’t even realise they were nuns at first as in other temples, monks and nuns usually both wear orange robes. Another thing I saw was that people wrote messages of good fortune on lamps. The Buddha’s birthday celebrations were quite interesting to witness and I was glad to have a peaceful day off.

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