Buddha’s lamp carried to Korea to ease tensions

Nepali and Korean monks carry out the peace lamp kindling ritual on April 18 in the Buddha's birthplace Lumbini. <Photo: Dosunsa Temple>

The ‘peace lamp’ kindled in the Buddha’s birthplace Lumbini has been travelling to the nuclear crisis-ridden Korean Peninsula.

Nepali President Ram Baran Yadav and the Buddhist community of Lumbini presented a perennial holy peace lamp on April 19 to South Korean Buddhist monks to appease the winds of war between North and South Korea, Nepali newspaper The Himalayan Times reports.

President Yadav handed over the lamp at the Presidential House in Sheetal Niwas to Buddhist religious preacher Ven. Sunmook Hyeja of Dosunsa Temple located in Seoul, Korea.

“We hope that this little light will help ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula, so that peace will prevail,” Yadav said.

The delivering of the ‘perpetual lamp’ was designed to long for peace and allay the magnitude of conflict surfaced between North Korea and South Korea.

The lamp has been carried by South Korean monks, and is scheduled to reach Korea on May 1 to mark the birthday of Siddhartha Gautama. It has been the first time for the Buddha’s lamp to be brought to Korea.

A 80-member delegation of South Korean monks headed by Sunmook Hyeja had arrived in Nepal from the monastery on the management of Nepal South Korea Lumbini Peace Lamp Expedition Citizens’ Committee. The committee brought the peace lamp to Kathmandu from Lumbini on April 18.

On the occasion, President Yadav stated that the lamp to be taken to Korea from Lumbini would impart a positive message to maintain human welfare and peace in the global context, said the committee coordinator Kapil Lama. “In the Buddhist religion, peace is a core value,” he added.

Nepali Minister of Foreign Affairs Madhav Prasad Ghimire and Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Ram Kumar Shrestha also expressed their hopes for peace at the presentation ceremony.

Ven. Sunmook Hyeja, representative of the delegation and a chief monk of Dosunsa Temple, said that in recent weeks of fear, the leaders of various faiths launched initiatives to ease tensions between North and South Korea.

“Christians, Muslims and Buddhists all over the world,” he said, “are praying together to stop the winds of war blowing over the peninsula.”

For Heja, the journey of the lamp of the Buddha is another message of hope and reconciliation. After it left Lumbini where it was kindled with a ceremony to pay homage to Buddha, the lamp stopped in Kathmandu before setting off for Korea via China.

In China, a Buddhist ritual will be held at Beopmunsa, a brotherhood temple with Dosunsa, in Xian. The delegation will try to enter North Korea from China to hold a peace ceremony in Pyongyang and reach South Korea by land.

Given recent tensions escalated by North Korea’s threatening words and actions, it has not been clear whether they are able to enter North Korea. If not allowed, the delegation will directly arrive in Seoul Korea on 1 May for the feast of Jayanti, the day marking the birth of Siddhartha Gautama.

The lamp and the delegation will be welcomed with joy for a series of ceremonies. The Buddha’s message of peace and hope represented by the lamp will be sent to their brothers in North Korea.

The lamp festival is set to take place in several Buddhist temples on pilgrimage by illuminating lots of lamps ignited by the original one.

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