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Seoul's Jogyesa Buddhist Temple Welcomes Its Newest (And Littlest) Monks

By Carol Kuruvilla and Gabriela Landazuri Saltos, The Huffington Post, May 11, 2015

Seoul, South Korea -- In honor of Buddha's birthday, children in Seoul got a glimpse of what it's like to be a Buddhist monk.

The children shaved their heads, donned special religious robes, and received prayer beads on Monday during a "Children Becoming Buddhist Monks" ceremony at the Chogye (Jogyesa) temple in Seoul, which is the chief holy site of the Jogye order of Korean Buddhism. They will stay at the temple for a total of 14 days to learn about the religion, according to Getty.

Buddhists believe that Siddhartha Gautama, the founder of their faith, was born approximately 2,559 years ago, although the exact date is unknown. Korean Buddhists celebrate Buddha's birthday, called Seokga tansinil, on the eighth day of the fourth moon, according to The Asia Society.

Although only 23 percent of South Koreans identify as Buddhists, the Buddha's birthday is celebrated as a public holiday. People mark the day with lantern festivals, while temples offer all visitors free tea and a delicious meal of rice and vegetables called "bibimbab."

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