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The Jade Buddha Temple & Lantern Festival


  • Rhetorical's picture

    We spent our last day in China visiting the Jade Buddha Temple in Shanghai. ISmoke filled courtyard of Jade Buddha Temple haven't been there in many years, in fact not since before the original temple was destroyed in the 1900's (it was rebuilt in 1928), yet just stepping into the main courtyard was like stepping back in time for me.

     

    This temple is not a tourist attraction, but an actual Zen Buddhist temple. We arrived on the last day of the Spring Festival, which is a traditional time for Buddhists to come and pray for prosperity and to make offerings. Many people stand in the courtyard with large Chinese pray with burning joss sticks.bundles of burning joss sticks praying to the giant golden Buddha statues. Others burn paper replicas of offerings in the fire pits that were constantly going, while many lined up along the sides of the courtyard to pray at different statues and drop a money offering in the box in front of it. All of these people quietly focused on their prayers was beautiful to watch and relaxed me after two weeks on the jostling streets of the cities.

     

    As you might suspect from the name, there is a Jade statue of Buddha in the temple, two in fact. The statues were brought over from Myanmar in the late 1800's. Each one is carved out of a single huge piece of white jade, and are life sized, making them truly unique statues. Although in my opinion they weren't the most impressive statues in the temple. This temple is filled with a number of statues of the Buddha and other deities. In fact there are over 40 statues in the temple in all, some life sized but many that are much much larger.
    3 gian golden Buddhas at Jade Buddha Temple

     

     

    Red Lanterns at Lantern Festival

     

    Well, my time of relaxation didn't last. After a peaceful afternoon in the temple, we had a very crowded evening. The last night of the Spring Festival is called the Lantern Festival and we went to the Old Town and Yuyuan Gardens for the celebration.

     

    The Yuyuan garden is a beautiful green oasis that could soothe any weary traveler. And they might have if we even made it to the gardens themselves. Instead we were stuck in the crowds right outside the gardens, in the old town. We could barely move, much less actually move in the direction we wanted. I would have liked to stay at the hotel, as I don't like crowds, but I went along to make sure that F.W. didn't get separated from the group.

     

    There was still plenty to see in the Old Town (which ironically is actually filled with modern stores) including little parades, various giant inflatable creatures all lit up, and of course, a lot of lanterns. We also found a stand that sold yuanxiao, which are stickyLantern Festival Yuyuan Park rice flour balls sometimes filled with walnuts, meats or vegetables. They are supposed to bring good luck in the upcoming year. Keby, Kiweenie, F.W. and Moo-Cow enjoyed them, but Ramses said he didn't need any more luck and passed. Instead he ate some dumplings. I waited until he finished before I told him what was in them. (You wouldn't believe someone would think to eat those parts of the crab). I enjoyed his reaction, but I was happy when we were done and putting the crowds behind us.

    Lantern Festival Yuyuan park

    Overall it was a perfect way for us to end our trip to China because it really gave us the taste for all aspects of this country that is straddling two periods of their history and like me can see the past and the future all at once.

     

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