The Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism is a network of about 130 temples throughout the country which keep the richness of traditional Korean culture and history alive. All year long, the ‘Land of the Morning Calm’ offers ‘Templestay’ programmes for visitors who wish to experience temple life in South Korea.
And from 29 December 2017 until 01 January 2018, 56 Templestay monasteries invite visitors from all over the world to open 2018 with a one-of-a-kind celebration. Dubbed ‘Welcoming the Sun,’ the programme encourages guests to start the year with the traditional Buddhist values of reflection, love of nature, and a return to the simple life.
This Templestay experience allows visitors to join various activities to empty the mind and bring in blessings. These include the lighting and temple bell-striking ceremonies, meditation, having a conversation with a monk over tea, and bowing 108 times.
For guests who wish to reflect at their own leisure, a special programme to watch the first sunrise of 2018 will be held at mountainside temples facing the East Sea and Mt Seorak. These include Baekdamsa, Bohyunsa, Samhwasa, Sinheungsa (Sokcho), and Woljeongsa in Gangwon-do Province, the location of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
Of course, the highlight of any Templestay experience is the inclusion of Korean temple food. These vegetarian meals have gained fans all over the world because they are prepared without meat, fish, or ‘osinchae’ — vegetables considered the ‘five stimulants’ in Korean culture. Buddhists in the country believe that eating green onions, garlic, chives, wild chives and heunggeo (a kind of dropwort) ‘hurts’ the body, so they do not eat these vegetables.
Let the monastic lifestyle of South Korea’s Templestay programme allow you to enter the new year with an openness of self.
For information about the ‘Welcoming the Sun’ New Year 2018 Templestay experience, or to simply learn more about the Templestay programmes, visit https://eng.templestay.com/. Alternately, follow the official Facebook page of the Cultural Corps of Korean Buddhism at www.facebook.com/templestaykorea.