Baegyangsa (and a monk’s funeral procession)

Sometime in 2005, my husband and I together with my parents-in-law traveled to Jeollanam-do, a province in southern South Korea. It was during one of those 3-day weekends during the summer. I’d taken so many pictures in the first two days that I almost ran out of space on my camera’s SD card on the third day. On our trip back to Seoul, we passed by a temple called Baegyang (“sa” is the Korean word for temple). Here’s the description from Tour2Korea:

Founded during the reign of King Mu of the Baekje Dynasty (632), Baekyangsa Temple is located within Naejangsan National Park. The combination of the mountain and valleys on both sides creates beautiful scenery. Nature reveals its beauty throughout all seasons here especially the red maple leaves during the fall. Daeungjeon, Geukrakbojeon and Sacheonwangmun have been designated as cultural assets. Pass the wood path of lined-up white oaks and maple trees, through the entrance of Baekyangsa Temple, and you will first spot Ssanggyeru. You will appreciate the breathtaking view of Ssangyeru shimmering in the pond.

We arrived at the temple sometime around noon and we saw what seems to be funeral procession. We were told that a monk has died. It was my first time to see such an “event” so I took pictures. During the protests in Burma, I noticed that in comparison the monks here are somewhat privileged.

We went to the different buildings at the temple site. Then we went back to where the monk’s coffin was to be cremated. Unfortunately, I ran out of space on my SD card. I couldn’t take pictures. It was my first time to see a funeral pyre. My husband said if the monk had achieved enlightenment, there will be gemstones found after the cremation.

5 comments

  1. Wow, pretty solemn… I have to say it’s a very beautiful place, and that’s a very interesting tidbit about the gemstones…

    I think it’s best you didn’t have a chance to take a picture of the cremation. These photos already feel solemn enough. Don’t have to give us a reality check! =P

  2. ^^ I thought about that. I could’ve erased a picture of two but I didn’t. I’m not really sure about the gemstones… I thought it’s just a myth.

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