Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Beginning of Buddha's Birthday

Buddha's birthday is actually the 28th this month - a bit of a pisser since that is a Monday, already my day off. But here at Dongguk, the only Officially Buddhist University in Korea (OBUK), we begin our celebrations early, at the beginning of the month. Among other things, we hang lanterns all over the campus and have a lantern-lighting ceremony on the first.

Because we are OBUK, there is some attempt by the Buddhist side of the Uni to control the academic side of the Uni. Part of this is expressed in what is allowed into the category of Professional Development here; part of your PF is supposed to be Buddhist related. This means that these events are attended by academics, but normally only those academics who are being evaluated this year. No one wants to get a thumbs-down from Buddha!

So, my handler-professor is up for evaluation this year and had to go to this event. For support, or something, she asked me to attend and I did. It was mercifully brief, featuring a stultifying speech (even in second language), by the head Buddhist dude, who really needs to take my presentation class^^, the lighting of the lanterns, and then a weird parade in and out of the plaza on the quad, walking on each path that laces it.

As we walked that path my handler was anxiously scanning the plaza to try to figure out where the sign-up sheet was, because if she didn't sign in, her attendance would not be noted. I spotted the sign-up first, and when I pointed it out to her, we bee-lined straight for it, signed it, and scutttled.

I think next year I'll attend, but to take pictures, not sit in the audience - It was difficult to get pictures of anything decent looking from within the audience, parade, etc..

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