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Seoul International Buddhism Expo to Focus on Ritual

From bexpo.kr

The Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism will host the 2022 Seoul International Buddhism Expo from 29 September–2 October. The event’s theme is Ritual; The “Moment That Changes My Life.” The purpose of the yearly expo is to build bridges between Buddhist monasteries and temples and the lives of ordinary people. Thus, the meaning of ritual expands beyond usual use to encompass a number of potential areas of our lives.

In an announcement shared with BDG, the organizers posed a profound question: “How noble would our daily life be if we could accept our daily as a ritual and our life as a ritual? How could we make our daily lives richer and more sustainable?” (Business Wire)

The traditional culture festival will be supervised by South Korea’s Buddhist newspapers and Bulgwang Media. In addition to its theme focusing on ritual, the expo carries the slogan “Blossom of Living Traditional Culture.” The event is to be held in-person at the Seoul Trade Exhibition and Convention Center (SETEC) as well as via the official website, bexpo.kr.

As in past years, the expo will consist of three exhibition halls with different themes. In exhibition hall 1, the theme is “The practitioner is the Buddha.” There, three gwaebul, or large painted Buddhist banners, will be on display from participating temples. The banners will provide an opportunity for people to take part in the practice of bowing before the images, being digitally transformed into monks as they do so.

According to the announcement: “When a visitor bows directly to the gwaebul, the figure appears as a monk on the screen facing the gwaebul. If we achieve 10,000 relay bows during the expo, they will be donated to flood victims affected by typhoons and heavy rains in the name of the participants, which must add more meaningful value to the event.” (Business Wire)

In the second hall, a three-meter-long Buddhist painting will be displayed, inviting participants to contemplate “I Saw the Buddha.” The painting is the work of Im Seok-hwan, holder of National Intangible Cultural Heritage No. 118 for his career as a bulhwajang, a highly skilled Buddhist artist. As part of the exhibit, those present will be introduced to Seon (Zen) meditation as they ponder the power of every brush stroke in Seok-hwan’s work.

The third hall is titled “108 Temple Contents & Traditional Culture Excellent Product Contest,” and houses products created by 16 temples across Korea, including pottery, incense, and books. Alongside these will be the winners of the recent Eighth Traditional Culture Excellent Product Contest.

Incense, one of the items for sale at the event. From bexpo.kr

A special exhibition will feature Buddhist rituals in Thailand, featuring Thai Buddha statues, gold offerings, images of Theravada monastics, information about the annual robe-offering ceremony, and representatives from the popular Dhammakaya tradition, who will teach meditation. There will also be a wide variety of Buddhist arts available for purchase. Nineteen artists will be featured, offering some 45 artworks, all available for no more than 600,000 won (US$432).

Additionally, a Buddhist art fair will showcase traditional Korean and Buddhist art. There, 42 teams will set up 70 booths to exhibit paintings, sculptures, media installations, and handicrafts.

As part of the goal of bridging the everyday lives of Koreans and the Buddhist world, companies will be invited to showcase applications. There will also be a variety of lectures, both at the live event and online. These will range from Buddhist philosophy to temple cooking demonstrations.

The Jogye Order is a school of Seon (Zen) Buddhism and traces its roots back 1,200 years to Korea’s Unified Silla (also known as the Later Silla) kingdom (668–935). Jogye emerged as a distinct entity in the late 11th century under the monk Bojo Jinul, who sought to combine Seon practices with sutra-based schools including Korean Pure Land Buddhism. The Jogye order is now the largest order in South Korea, administering some 1,900 active temples and more than 13,000 monastics across the nation.

Read more

2022 Seoul International Buddhism Expo
2022 Seoul International Buddhism Expo: in Search of Ritual, a Daily Routine That Changes Our Life (Business Wire)
National Intangible Cultural Property NO. 118 Bulhwajang (Little Korea)

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